How A Mathematician Saved American Bombers in WW2

How A Mathematician Saved American Bombers in WW2 | World War Wings Videos

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Pushed Out Of Romania

Forced to flee his homeland in Europe, Abraham Wald, a Jewish mathematician, sought refuge at Columbia University in the United States.

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At Columbia, Wald became a pivotal figure in the Statistical Research Group, a team tasked with aiding the military in refining tactics, advancing technology, and solving complex problems

Taking Considerable Losses

The military faced a perplexing dilemma: a significant number of aircraft were being downed by enemy fire without clear explanation. In response, Wald and his colleagues embarked on a meticulous analysis.

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Through information given by the grounds crews, the researchers pinpointed locations where there were significant bullet holes.

They thought that putting more armor on areas with heavy damage would help improve the bomber’s survivability.

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Wald’s Solution

Wald recognized the inherent flaw in the military’s initial strategy—a bias known as “survivorship bias.”

The existing models only accounted for areas where planes could withstand damage and return safely. However, Wald pointed out that the key lay in fortifying the areas that remained unscathed.

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Consequently, the U.S. military heeded Wald’s advice and reinforced the seemingly untouched regions of the aircraft, including engines, cockpits, and fuel tanks.

This led to a better survivability rate and lowered the rate of casualties in the long run.

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