James Pita

James Pita

James Pita is an adjunct Operations Research Associate at RAND Corporation and a co-founder of Armorway, Inc. specializing in military and cyber applications. Dr. Pita's research focuses on the application of game-theoretic techniques to aid in resource allocation decisions in competitive environments. In his early career Dr. Pita was involved in the development and deployment of two real-world prototypes that utilize game-theoretic techniques for resource allocation decisions. Namely, he led development on a prototype application deployed from August of 2007 to September 2012 known as ARMOR for Los Angeles International Airport, which resulted in a commendation from the city of Los Angeles and a prototype application deployed in 2011 known as GUARDS for the United States Transportation Security Administration. Additionally, one of Dr. Pita's algorithms is now at the center of a deployed application known as PROTECT for the United States Coast Guard. The large success of these and other prototypes developed at the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorist Events (CREATE) at the University of Southern California (USC) eventually lead to the founding of Armorway, Inc..

Dr. Pita's research has won a number of best paper nominations and awards at Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS), a Student Merit Award at the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) annual meeting, the RIST Prize by the Military Operations Research Society, and been a finalist for the EURO Excellence in Practice Award for the published work he coauthored in Interfaces. Dr. Pita received his PhD from the University of Southern California under the advisement of Dr. Milind Tambe.

Curriculum Vitae

James Pita
Armorway, Inc.
445 S. Figueroa St.,
Suite 2700
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Phone: 307 371-2139
E-Mail: james@armorway.com

Honors and awards

Major Awards


TEDx Manhattan Beach Talk As a world-recognized leader in game-theoretic studies I was invited to speak on my passion for games and how game-theory can help change the world. Everyone knows games are fun, but they don't have to be just for play. Game theory helps fight real-world bad guys including college campus, airport and transportation threats; poachers; and financial breaches of security. Using artificial intelligence, game theory, and today's computing power, game theory is changing the odds and winning.


  • Commendation, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports Police Department As a lead member of a team of researchers from CREATE (Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events) that developed ARMOR, "Assistant for Randomized Monitoring Over Routes." The commendation states "To merit this commendation you have performed an exceptional service to the Airport police Division, the Los Angeles World Airports and the city of Los Angeles. Your outstanding service facilitates the critical link between the laboratory and the operational world. Thank you for your outstanding contributions to the security of our nation."
  • Certificate of Recognition, DHS University Programs Received by CREATE "The DHS Office of University Programs recognizes CREATE for the outstanding contributions to the security of our nation that the Assistant for Randomized Monitoring over Routes (ARMOR) has made to the police operations at the Los Angeles World Airports."

Best Paper Awards and Finalists


  • Best paper, AAMAS'2011 Innovative Applications track Our paper from the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2011) won the innovative applications best paper award. The paper is entitled "GUARDS - Game Theoretic Security Allocation on a National Scale."
  • Finalist for RIST Prize, Military Operations Research Society Our abstract a finalist for the RIST prize. The abstract is entitled "Software Assistants for Patrol Planning at LAX, Federal Air Marshals Service, and Transportation Security Administration."


  • Finalist, EURO Operations Research Conference Excellence in Practice Award EEPA'2010 Our paper from the journal "Interfaces" selected to be a finalist for the EEPA'2010 award. The paper is entitled "Software Assistants for Randomized Patrol Planning for The LAX Airport Police and The Federal Air Marshals Service."
  • Student Merit Award, Security and Defense, Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) meeting I won the student merit award for our abstract at the SRA annual meeting. The abstract is entitled "Research allocation decisions against adaptive adversaries."


Finalist for Best paper, AAMAS'2008 Industry track Our paper from the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2008) a finalist for the industry track best paper ward. The paper is entitled "Deployed ARMOR Protection: The Application of a Game Theoretic Model for Security at the Los Angeles International Airport."

Other Honors and Awards


Homeland Security Fellowship Awarded by the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) renewable for three years.


  • Annenberg Graduate Fellowshop Awarded by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism renewable for four years.
  • Michigan State University Distinguished Academic Achievement Award Awarded by the Michigan State University Department of Computer Science and Engineering in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
  • Michigan State University Distinguished Service Award Awarded by the Michigan State University Department of Computer Science and Engineering in 2006 and 2007.


Michigan State University Homecoming Court Elected to represent the student body of Michigan State University on Homecoming Court at the Homecoming game in 2006.


Hispanic National Merit Scholarship Awarded by Michigan State University for being named a Hispanic National Merit Scholar based on my PSAT scores.

Behavioral Game Theory and Game Theoretic Modeling

This research focuses on developing new game-theoretic models and solution algorithms for real-world security domains. These solution algorithms are use-inspired and designed to efficiently solve large scale real-world problems, such as the Game-theoretic Unpredictable and Randomly Deployed Security (GUARDS) tool created for the United States Transportation Security Administration. Most existing models make strict assumptions on the underlying games, such as all players are perfectly rational, and thus may not translate well to real-world problems. I focus on creating extensions to these models to address real-world concerns when dealing with human adversaries and different terrorist organizations. These include dealing with model uncertainties such as which particular terrorist organization we may face, accounting for human social biases, handling specific human preferences, addressing opponent observational uncertainty, and addressing human bounded rationality to name a few. These models will be both empirically and qualitatively validated through mathematical proofs and experimentation.

GUARDS (Game-theoretic Unpredictable and Randomly Deployed Security):

This research is being done in collaboration with the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The goal is to optimally allocate limited TSA resources between different targets and a variety of security activities. The challenges we face are both solving this complex game efficiently and reasoning over a potentially innumerable number of attacker actions. To address these problems I developed a new game model known as Security Circumvention Games (SCGs) which cast this problem as a Stackelberg game, allowing agents to appropriately weight the different actions in randomization while considering an intelligent adversary who will monitor the security policy and plan an attack path to circumvent security activities.

ARMOR (Assistant for Randomized Monitoring Over Routes):

This research involves working on the security patrolling problem. Specifically, when and where to patrol/monitor areas of importance. We find that it is critical to maintain a level of randomness in security while still maintaining specific quality constraints. ARMOR is a software assistant that casts this patrolling/monitoring problem as a Bayesian Stackelberg game, allowing agents to appropriately weigh the different actions in randomization, as well as uncertainty over adversary types.

True story:

TRUE STORY is a system architecture that was designed to address issues concerning dynamically generated quest or story paths in persistent worlds, such as MMORPGs, for users to engage in more enhanced, interactive and personal experiences. TRUE STORY empowers persistent world designers by offering a truly modular approach for dynamically generating and presenting compelling content that results in user experiences worth telling a story about.

Phylogenic Tree Reconstruction:

The reconstruction of phylogenic tress is currently being explored for evolutionary studies. The methods used for these reconstructions are becoming more complex and rigorous as the principles behind them are becoming apparent. As more phylogenies are biologically discovered it is becoming easier to find known trees to compare results to. With concrete results at hand metods are being examined and corrected to conform to the model. I explored a character-weighting method which assigns different weights to each section of a phylogeny based on the portion of the tree that was being examined. After incorporating these weights a method known as neighbor joining was applied to the new set of data to attempt reconstruction of the deepest branch of the phylogeny

Gene Searching Algorithm:

Various gene-searching algorithms presently exist to search genomic databases for Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) sequences. However, as genomic databases continue to grow in size with the discovery of new genes and new organisms these algorithms are becoming more inefficient and uneconomical for accomplishing the task of sequence searching. The algorithm I worked on attempted to sequentially search a database of DNA and in one pass calculate the number of matches a gene sequence would experience at each position in the genome.

Synthetic Spider Silk:

Spider silk is a material that can be used for various applications ranging from military to medical. Thus, the creation of a sequence of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) that will produce spider silk protein is being explored. Once produced this protein will be manipulated to create a synthetic spider silk as strong as naturally occurring spider silk. Through the use of restriction enzymes, synthetic genes can be assembled that mimic the behavior of spider genes and code for the production of silk protein. After the successful creation of these new strains of genes, they can be transplanted into bacteria, which will then be used to produce spider silk protein.

Journal Papers

Conference Papers

Workshop Papers

Book Chapters

ARMOR Software: A Game Theoretic Approach for Airport Security: Book Chapter in "Protecting Airline Passengers in the Age of Terrorism" by Praeger Publishers, 2008 (with Manish Jain, Fernando Ordonez, Christopher Portway, Milind Tambe, Craig Western, Praveen Paruchuri, and Sarit Kraus)


Oral Presentations

  • Resource Allocation for Heterogeneous Security Activities Against Diverse Threats: INFORMS Computing Society Conference, 2011 (with Christopher Kiekintveld and Milind Tambe)
  • Resource Allocation Decisions Against Adaptive Adversaries: Best Student Presentation in the Homeland Security Specialty Group Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting, 2010 (with Christopher Kiekintveld and Milind Tambe)
  • Lessons Learned from Deployed Game Theoretic Security Applications: Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting, 2010 (with Milind Tambe, Manish Jain, Jason Tsai, and Fernando Ordonez)

Poster Presentations

  • Game Theoretic Approaches for Randomization in Security Resource Allocation: DIMACS/CCICADA Workshop on Adversarial Decision Making, 2010 (with Christopher Kiekintveld, Manish Jain, and Milind Tambe)
  • A Game Theoretic Approach for Randomization in Security: A Report from the Trenches: Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting, 2009 (with Milind Tambe, Chris Kiekintveld, Matthew Taylor, and Fernando Ordonez)
  • Dealing with Human Uncertainties in Stackelberg Games: The Third Annual Department of Homeland Security University Network Summit, 2009 (with Milind Tambe)
  • Infrastructure Security via Randomization: A Game Theoretic Model and its Application at the Los Angeles International Airport: IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security (With Technical Assistance from the Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Directorate), 2008 (with Manish Jain, Janusz Marecki, Fernando Ordonez, Christopher Portway, Milind Tambe, Craig Western, Praveen Paruchuri, and Sarit Kraus)

Demo Papers

ARMOR Security for Los Angeles International Airport: AAAI Intelligent Systems Demonstrations, 2008 (with Manish Jain, Fernando Ordonez, Christopher Portway, Milind Tambe, Craig Western, Praveen Paruchuri, and Sarit Kraus)

Tutorials and Demos