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Professor Thomas Chadefaux
Professor in Political Science, Political Science


Thomas Chadefaux holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Prior to becoming an assistant Professor of Political Science at Trinity College Dublin, he has been a visiting assistant professor in the department of political science at the University of Rochester and a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Turkoglu Oguzhan, Chadefaux Thomas, The effect of terrorist attacks on attitudes and its duration, Political Science Research and Methods , 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI TARA - Full Text

Boussalis, C., Chadefaux, T., Decadri, S., Salvi, A., Public and Private Information in International Crises: Diplomatic Correspondence and Conflict Anticipation, International Studies Quarterly, 2022 Journal Article, 2022 TARA - Full Text

Thomas Chadefaux, A shape-based approach to conflict forecasting, International Interactions, 2021 Journal Article, 2021 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Oguzhan Turkoglu, Replication Data for: The effect of terrorist attacks on attitudes and its duration, Journal of Peace Research, 2021 Dataset, 2021 DOI

Thomas Chadefaux, What the enemy knows: Common knowledge and the rationality of war, British Journal of Political Science, 50, (4), 2020, p1593 - 1607 Journal Article, 2020 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Nowhere to go: Why do some civil wars generate more refugees than others?, International Interactions, 45, (2), 2019, p401 - 420 Journal Article, 2019

Thomas Chadefaux, Conflict Forecasting and its Limits, Data Science, 1, (1), 2018, p1 - 11 Journal Article, 2018 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Market Anticipations of Conflict Onsets. , Journal of Peace Research , 54, (2), 2017, p1 - 18 Journal Article, 2017 URL

Spaiser, Viktoria, Thomas Chadefaux, Karsten Donnay and Dirk Helbing., Communication power struggles on social media: A case study of the 2011-12 Russian protests, Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 2017, p1 - 47 Journal Article, 2017 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Market Anticipations of Conflict Onset, UCD, Dublin, 2016 Invited Talk, 2016

Thomas Chadefaux, 'ACCESS', 2015, - Map, GIS map, 2015

Helbing, Dirk, Dirk Brockmann, Thomas Chadefaux, Karsten Donnay, Ulf Blanke, Olivia Woolley-Meza, Mehdi Moussaid, Anders Johansson, Jens Krause, Sebastian Schutte, Matjaz Perc, Saving Human Lives: What Complexity Science and Information Systems Can Contribute, Journal of Statistical Physics, June, 2015, p1 - 47 Journal Article, 2015 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, News and War, 1.0, Journal of Peace Research, 2014 Dataset, 2014 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Early Warning Signals for War in the News, Journal of Peace Research, 51, (1), 2014, p1 - 14 Journal Article, 2014 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Dirk Helbing, The Rationality of Prejudices, PLoS One, 7, (2), 2012, p1 - 10 Journal Article, 2012 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Bargaining over Power: When Do Shifts in Power Lead to War? , International Theory, 3, (2), 2011, p228 - 253 Journal Article, 2011 URL

Thomas Chadefaux, Dirk Helbing, How Wealth Accumulation Can Promote Cooperation. , PLoS One, 5, (10), 2010 Journal Article, 2010 URL

Data Science, Amsterdam, IOS Press, [eds.], -2018 Editorial Board,

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Thomas Chadefaux, The Triggers of War: Disentangling the Spark from the Powder Keg., 2014 Working Paper, 2014 URL

Research Expertise


There have been more than 200 wars since the start of the 20th century, leading to about 35 million battle deaths. This recurrence of wars despite their tremendous economic, social and institutional costs, may suggest that we are doomed to repeat the errors of the past. Unfortunately, we still know little about the predictability of conflict.

In particular, are forecasting failures due to limitations of our models, data, or assumptions? Or are there simply aspects of conflicts that will always remain fundamentally unpredictable? Are there systematic patterns in the escalation and emergence of conflict, and can these patterns be clustered and classified in meaningful ways that help us improve future forecast?

My current research generally focuses on the causes of interstate conflict and on their prediction. In particular, I rely on large amounts of fine-grained spatial and temporal data (e.g., newspapers, satellite images, financial markets) to reveal early warning signals for war. Of special interest is whether decision-makers correctly anticipate the risks of war, or rather `sleepwalk' into conflict. Estimating their perceptions of risk is therefore central to my work, which relies on financial data, text analysis of news reports and of diplomatic cables to understand when and how leaders, journalists and the public anticipate wars. Methodologically, my work relies mostly on statistical methods and machine learning approaches.

This work leads to three main types of outputs. First, empirical contributions to the question of observers' perceptions of risk. If we can identify the causes of underestimation of risk, we can suggest corrections to learn from history. Second, forecasts of conflicts--here I seek to build on and improve existing forecasts as part of an international network, and on that basis to advise governments (e.g., German Department of Foreign affairs) and international organisations (e..g, EU). Finally, the work leads to theoretical contributions using game theory to better understand the causes of war. This work has been published in the field's top journals.


  • Title
    • Patterns of Conflict Emergence
  • Summary
    • Are there recurring patterns in the escalation and emergence of wars? The idea that history may repeat itself is old. But recent advances overcoming methodological and data barriers present an opportunity to identify these recurrences empirically and to examine whether these patterns can be classified to improve forecasts and inform theories of conflict. I propose to combine new methods-using the shape of the sequence of events rather than its raw values-and novel data on conflict from finance, diplomatic cables, and newspapers, to extract typical pre-war motifs. Just as DNA sequencing has been critical to medical diagnoses, PaCE aims to diagnose international politics by uncovering the relevant patterns in the area of conflict. Our goals are to:
      (i) Identify patterns in the pre-conflict actions using data on conflict events-from the onset of WWI to Hamas's rocket launches-and in their perceptions using data from financial markets (the "crowd's" perception), news articles (the "experts"), and diplomatic documents (the policy-makers). This will allow us to evaluate the patterns of escalation over different timescales-from the decade to the minute. The similarity between temporal sequences will be measured using algorithms which allow for flexible matching, such as Dynamic Time Warping.
      (ii) Evaluate the utility of these patterns to improve forecasts of conflict with both historical and live out-of-sample predictions. Our results, using shape-based classification methods, will be made public and evaluated in real time. Moreover, using new measures of complexity to distinguish regular, chaotic, and random behavior, I will measure possible fundamental limits to the predictability of conflict events.
      (iii) Summarize the core features of dangerous patterns into motifs-recurring patterns-that can help build new theories of conflict emergence and escalation. PaCE will build a repository of shapes-a grammar of patterns-to be used as the building blocks of new theories.
  • Funding Agency
    • European Research Council (ERC)
  • Title
    • The steps to war: Developing an automated pattern recognition system for conflict
  • Funding Agency
    • Trinity College Dublin
  • Date From
    • 2019
  • Date To
    • 2023
  • Title
    • The Patterns of Conflict Escalation: Why leaders, markets, and analysts fail to anticipate wars
  • Funding Agency
    • Enterprise Ireland
  • Date From
    • 2018
  • Date To
    • 2019
  • Title
    • Explaining the variation in refugee flows: the effect of rebel group dynamics in civil conflicts
  • Funding Agency
    • Irish Research Council
  • Date From
    • 2018
  • Date To
    • 2022
  • Title
    • Explaining variation in the diffusion of civil wars: the role of short-term triggers.
  • Funding Agency
    • Irish Research Council
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2021


BARGAINING; BARGAINING POWER; BARGAINING THEORY; civil war; CONFLICT; Econometrics/Forecasting; FORECASTING; Game Theory; international conflict; Interstate war



. Editorial Board Member, Data Science

Journal reviewer
I have reviewed article manuscripts for the following journals (in alphabetical order):
Advances in Complex Systems, American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Conflict Management and Peace Science, Empirical Economics, International Interactions, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Journal of Global Security Studies, Journal of Information Technology \& Politics, Journal of Mathematical Sociology, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Politics, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, PLoS One, Political Science Research and Methods.

External examiner, PhD viva, University of St Andrews Jan. 2020

External examiner, hiring committee, UCD 2018

Awards and Honours

Best paper award, American Political Science Review 2018

Best Paper award, Oxford, "Internet, Politics, Policy" conference Sept. 2012

Best visualisation award 2014

Best visualisation award, Journal of Peace Research 2014


American Political Science Association 2004

American Economic Association 2009

Midwest Political Science Association 2005