Document Type



Mathematics (HMC)

Publication Date



With a simple mathematical model, we explored the antiterrorist effectiveness of airport passenger prescreening systems. Supporters of these systems often emphasize the need to identify the most suspicious passengers, but they ignore the point that such identification does little good unless dangerous items can actually be detected. Critics often focus on terrorists' ability to probe the system and thereby thwart it, but ignore the possibility that the very act of probing can deter attempts at sabotage that would have succeeded. Using the model to make some preliminary assessments about security policy, we find that an improved baseline level of screening for all passengers might lower the likelihood of attack more than would improved profiling of high-risk passengers.

Rights Information

© 2006 INFORMS