Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
South Pacific, May 7, 1942: the United States and Japan begin a two-day battle involving simultaneous airstrikes against each other’s aircraft carriers.
Both U.S. and Japanese ships sink. Historians agree that the battle paved the way for a strategic victory for the allies, although heavy losses were incurred on both sides.
What fascinates associate professor Michael Armstrong, who teaches courses on operations management, is not so much what happened as what didn’t happen. “What if something had been different?” he asks. “What if the Americans had a third aircraft carrier? What if one side had found the other first?”
To answer these questions – and similar ones arising from other historical battles – Armstrong devises mathematical models that calculate different outcomes depending on a wide array of variables, such as equipment and personnel. Armstrong’s Battle of the Coral Seas study was published in 2005 in the Military Operations Research journal.
Come January 2014, Armstrong will be sharing his expertise as a Fulbright Scholar, one of 14 across Canada. He will be the Fulbright Visiting Chair in War and Peace Studies at Norwich University, the first private American military college.