Purdue University Graduate School
_Dissertation - RBott - 12-3-21.pdf (3.9 MB)


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posted on 2021-12-20, 15:22 authored by Robert Eugen BottRobert Eugen Bott
This dissertation investigates the value of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) within an agent-based model (ABM) of a large open-air venue. The intent is to reduce civilian casualties in an active shooting incident (ASI). There has been a steady increase of ASIs in the United States of America for over 20 years, and some of the most casualty-producing events have been in open spaces and open-air venues. More research should be conducted within the field to help discover policies that can mitigate the threat of a shooter in extremis. This study uses the concept of dynamic signage, controlled by a DRL policy, to guide civilians away from the threat and toward a safe exit in the modeled environment. It was found that a well-trained DRL policy can significantly reduce civilian casualties as compared to baseline scenarios. Further, the DRL policy can assist decision makers in determining how many signs to use in an environment and where to place them. Finally, research using DRL in the ASI space can yield systems and policies that will help reduce the impact of active shooters during an incident.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Technology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

James Dietz

Additional Committee Member 2

Baijian Yang

Additional Committee Member 3

Eric Matson

Additional Committee Member 4

Charles Anklam III

Additional Committee Member 5

Braiden Frantz