Thursday, December 30, 2010

GeoMason: Geospatial Support for MASON

MASON (Multi-Agent Simulator Of Neighborhoods) developed jointly at George Mason University's Evolutionary Computation Laboratory and the Center for Social Complexity has recently added an extension called GeoMason which allows spatially explicit models to be incorporated into the MASON.

Over the last few months I have been experimenting with GeoMason in terms of using both raster and vector data to build spatially explicit agent-based models. Overall, I have been impressed by the speed of which such models run at and the example models that come with it GeoMason are really useful.

Below are some of the test models we have developed for a course on entitled GIS and Agent-based modeling which was taught in the Department of Computational Social Science at GMU.

The first model is based on importing a geotiff of the National Elevation Dataset at 1 arc second from the National Map of Crater Lake, Oregon. After which water is added (which could be considered loosely as agents) and flows from high to low elevations, if the water can not flow over the surface it pools. As the movie below shows, over time, Crater Lake slowly fills up until the water breaches the caldera rim which allows the water to flow out. This model was inspired by the NetLogo Grand Canyon Model.

Moving towards vector data, below is a simple example of using GeoMason for a spatially explicit Schelling style of model of segregation where neighborhoods are not based on a regular square lattice but on irregular cells and in this case stylized on Washington DC. The model uses polygon boundaries of census tracks from the 2000 US census. In the model, each census track knows which other census tracts are its neighbors and only one agent occupies such a track. As in the normal Schelling styles of models, agents want to be located in neighborhoods where a certain percentage of their neighbors are of the same type. If an agent is dissatisfied with its neighborhood it moves to a new location. This movement causes more movement and the result is that areas become segregated.

The next movie, highlights a variant of the Schelling model. Whereby we take aggregate data and use this to populate the model with agents. The reason for this is that much of the data we have comes at an aggregate level and often in some sort of vector representation of space such as census data. However, if we want to model the individuals or groups of individuals we can take this data along with other information and use it as a basis of spatially explicit agent-based model. Basically, this model extends the polygon model above and creates agents based on attribute data held within the shapefile. While the model is highly stylized it demonstrates how data can be read into the model, how to create agents based on this data and how to link points (agents) to polygons along with some basic geographical operations (such as union, point in polygon, buffer).

To download GeoMason click here (note there a number of model examples here). For more information on GeoMason there is a technical report:

Sullivan, K., Coletti, M. and Luke, S. (2010), GeoMason: GeoSpatial Support for MASON, Department of Computer Science, George Mason University, Technical Report Series, Fairfax, VA.

Also when I have time I will provide more details on the models above and others using GeoMason.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Multi-disciplinary approach of complexity, networks, geosimulations

A short note to say that the videos and presentations from the Multi-disciplinary approach of complexity, networks, geosimulations workshop held between 9th - 11th June 2010 at the University of Lausanne are available online and for download: Presentations include those from Prof. Peter Allen entitled "The Complexity of Structure, Strategy and Decision Making" and Prof. Itzhak Benenson entitled "Geo-simulations of urban phenomena"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Space-Time Dynamics in Scaling Systems

To quote from Mike Batty:
"A rank clock is a device for visualising the changes over time in the ranked order of any set of objects where the ordering is usually from large to small. The size of cities, of firms, the distribution of incomes, and such-like social and economic phenomena display highly ordered distributions. If you rank order these phenomena by size from largest to smallest, the objects follow a power law over much of their size range, or at least follow a log normal distribution which is a power law in the upper tail."
The idea behind the Rank Clock is:
"... despite the fact that such distributions are so regular even through time, when one examines how objects within these distributions change over time, it is quite clear that somehow these systems remain stable at the aggregate level but with objects which composes them shifting quite dramatically from time period to time period. The Rank Clock is a device that shows how such distributions change over time and it is a natural complement to the rank size distribution which is called a Zipf Plot."
Below are some movies of the Rank Clock in action (further details can be found here). The first is an animated rank clock showing how the rank of cities in the USA changed between 1790 and 2000.

While the movie below shows an animation of a rank clock showing how the ranks of the top 100 high buildings in New York change between 1912 and 2008.

The Rank Clock Software can be downloaded from the CASA Web Site (here), more information can also be found here and more animations here

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Geospatial Revolution - Episode 1

Via the VerySpatial Blog I came across the first episode (below) of the Geospatial Revolution Project and thought it was worth sharing. To quote from the site:
"The mission of the Geospatial Revolution Project is to expand public knowledge about the history, applications, related privacy and legal issues, and the potential future of location-based technologies"

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A prototype migration model

This week saw many members of the Computational Social Science Department and the Center of Social Complexity attend the 3rd World Congress on Social Simulation in Kassel, Germany. Chris Rouly and myself presented some ongoing work entitled "A prototype, multi-agent system for the study of the Peopling of the Western Hemisphere". Below is the abstract of the paper:

"We describe the interim state of development of a prototype, multiagent system (MAS) model for studying the Peopling of the Western Hemisphere. The model is part of a computational analysis of proxy evidence associable with late Pleistocene human migrations. In particular, we examine an out-of-Europe migratory theory some suggest occurred late in the Pleistocene.

The migratory theory we examine is the Bradley-Stanford Solutrean-Clovis Hypothesis [1]. To date, natural decay and terrestrial location has produced only limited circumstantial [3], genomic [2], and lithic [4] evidence supporting conclusions pertaining to this specific theoretic event. The work described here constitutes the foundation steps for a coherent body of computational social science whose intent is a thorough investigation of the several hypothesized routes often suggested as migratory thoroughfares for early hunter-gatherer peoples into the Western Hemisphere. We use a biologically detailed, temporally articulated, spatially accurate, and empirically driven MAS."
While this research is ongoing if you would like to read more, see the paper below:

Rouly, O. V. and Crooks, A. T. (2010), A Prototype, Multi-agent System for the Study of the Peopling of the Western Hemisphere, in Ernst, A. and Kuhn, S. (eds) Proceedings of the 3rd World Congress on Social Simulation (WCSS2010): Scientific Advances in Understanding Societal Processes and Dynamics, Kassel, Germany. (pdf

Part of the model is modeling the extent of the ice sheet ("Deep Freeze") component of the model. The movie below shows the growth of the simplified ice sheet used in the simulation during the last ice age (from 25,000 to 16,000 years ago):

In addition to showing the total simulation of the Ice Sheet we also model the annual ice sheet movement (fluctuation), in the sense that while we model the growth and decline of the ice during the last glaciation we also model the ice sheets yearly flux:

The agents in the model are individual hunter-gatherers who move around the spatially explicit environment. The can form cohorts/groups. They forage for food and can migrate over the environment. We try to highlight this in the movie below:

To provide an idea of the simulation environment we are currently developing the movie below shows the GUI of the model focusing on a simulated year where our hunter-gatherers forage for food:

As noted at the beginning of this post, this is some initial research, a foray if you like and the model is classed as a prototype. It is not the final model by any stretch of the imagination. Any thoughts or comments are most welcome.


1. Bradley, B., Stanford, D.: The North Atlantic Ice-edge Corridor: A Possible Paleolithic Route to the New World. World Archaeology. 36 (2004) 459–478
2. Fagundes, N. J. R., Kanitz, R., Eckert, R., Valls, A. C. S., Bogo, M. R., Salzano, F. M., Smith, D. G., Silva Jr., W. A., Zago, M. A., Ribeiro-dos-Santos, A. K., Santos, S. E. B., Petzl-Erler, M. L., Bonatto, S. L.: Mitochondrial Population Genomics Supports a Single Pre-Clovis Origin with a Coastal Route for the Peopling of the Americas. The American Journal of Human Genetics. 82 (2008) 583–592
3. Goebel, T., Waters, T., O’Rourke, D.: The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas. Science. 319 (2008) 1497–1502
4. Lowery, O., O’Neal, M., Wah, J., Wagner, D., Stanford, D.: Late Pleistocene Upland
Stratigraphy of the Western Delmarva Peninsula, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews. 29 (2010) 1472–1480

Monday, September 06, 2010

New Report: Data mash-ups and the future of mapping

Several months ago we (Suchith Anand, Michael Batty, Andrew Crooks, Andrew Hudson-Smith, Mike Jackson, Richard Milton, Jeremy Morley) where commissioned by the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) to produce a TechWatch horizon scanning report entitled "Data mash-ups and the future of mapping."

Below is the executive summary of the report:

"The term 'mash-up' refers to websites that weave data from different sources into new Web services. The key to a successful Web service is to gather and use large datasets and harness the scale of the Internet through what is known as network effects. This means that data sources are just as important as the software that 'mashes' them, and one of the most profound pieces of data that a user has at any one time is his or her location. In the past this was a somewhat fuzzy concept, perhaps as vague as a verbal reference to being in a particular shop or café or an actual street address. Recent events, however, have changed this. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton's policy decision to open up military GPS satellite technology for 'dual-use' (military and civilian) resulted in a whole new generation of location-aware devices. Around the same time, cartography and GIScience were also undergoing dramatic, Internet-induced changes. Traditional, resource intensive processes and established organizations, in both the public and private sectors, were being challenged by new, lightweight methods. The upshot has been that map making, geospatial analysis and related activities are undergoing a process of profound change. New players have entered established markets and disrupted routes to knowledge and, as we have already seen with Web 2.0, newly empowered amateurs are part of these processes. Volunteers are quite literally grabbing a GPS unit and hitting the streets of their local town to help create crowdsourced datasets that are uploaded to both open source and proprietary databases.

The upshot is an evolving landscape which Tim O'Reilly, proponent of Web 2.0 and always ready with a handy moniker, has labelled Where 2.0. Others prefer the GeoWeb, Spatial Data Infrastructure, Location Infrastructure, or perhaps just location based services. Whatever one might call it, there are a number of reasons why its development should be of interest to those in higher and further education. Firstly, since a person's location is such a profound unit of information and of such value to, for example, the process of targeting advertising, there has been considerable investment in Web 2.0-style services that make use of it. Understanding these developments may provide useful insights for how other forms of data might be used. Secondly, education, particularly research, is beginning to realize the huge potential of the data mash-up concept. As Government, too, begins to get involved, it is likely that education will be expected to take advantage of, and indeed come to relish, the new opportunities for working with data.

This TechWatch report describes the context for the changes that are taking place and explains why the education community needs to understand the issues around how to open up data, how to create mash-ups that do not compromise accuracy and quality and how to deal with issues such as privacy and working with commercial and non-profit third parties. It also shows how data mash-ups in education and research are part of an emerging, richer information environment with greater integration of mobile applications, sensor platforms, e-science, mixed reality, and semantic, machine-computable data and speculates on how this is likely to develop in the future."
The full report can be downloaded from here.

Full Reference: 
Anand, S., Batty, M., Crooks, A. T., Hudson-Smith, A., Jackson, M., Milton, R. and Morley, J. (2010), Data Mash-ups and the Future of Mapping. Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Technology and Standards Watch (TechWatch) Horizon Scanning report 10_01, Bristol, England. (pdf) 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Vlasios Voudouris of the Object-Field Model blog linked to the following talk by Benoit Mandelbrot about "Fractals and the art of roughness." Like Vlasios I found it interesting so I thought I would share it, like him.

On a side note, anyone interested in fractals and want to see them in the context of cities should check out Fractal Cities: A Geometry of Form and Function” by Professors Mike Batty and Paul Longley. It is a well written, a must read and often cited book for anyone interested in or writing about fractals, urban modeling and complexity sciences. The nice thing about the book is it is freely available at:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Professor Jeff Schank of the Department of Psychology at the University of California is compiling a great website and a resource for those interested in ABM: The site has a plethora of resources for agent-based modelers, including a blog, a list of ABM blogs, simulation environments, Organizations, Centers, and Institutes involved with ABM, a growing list of researchers involved with ABM.

Modeling Housing Markets: Update

A while ago I blogged about the a simple NetLogo model by Nigel Gilbert et al. which explores how some of the main features of the English housing market emerges from the interactions between buyers, realtors and sellers (click here to run the model). I have just come across an audio recording with accompanying slide presentation by Nigel Gilbert’s which enhances the previous post and thought it was worth sharing. Click here to listen and see the slides. The talk is hosted on the SIMIAN (Simulation Innovation: a Node) project website which aims to promote and develop social simulation methods in the UK.

Gilbert, N, Hawksworth, J C, and Sweeney, P (2008) 'An Agent-based Model of the UK Housing Market'. University of Surrey or click here to read the paper.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Working Paper: From Buildings to Cities

Below is the the abstract for this paper:

The built environment is a significant factor in many urban processes, yet direct measures of built form are seldom used in geographical studies. Representation and analysis of urban form and function could provide new insights and improve the evidence base for research. So far progress has been slow due to limited data availability, computational demands, and a lack of methods to integrate built environment data with aggregate geographical analysis. Spatial data and computational improvements are overcoming some of these problems, but there remains a need for techniques to process and aggregate urban form data. Here we develop a Built Environment Model of urban function and dwelling type classifications for Greater London, based on detailed topographic and address-based data (sourced from Ordnance Survey MasterMap). The multi-scale approach allows the Built Environment Model to be viewed at fine-scales for local planning contexts, and at city-wide scales for aggregate geographical analysis, allowing an improved understanding of urban processes. This flexibility is illustrated in the two examples, that of urban function and residential type analysis, where both local-scale urban clustering and city-wide trends in density and agglomeration are shown. While we demonstrate the multi-scale Built Environment Model to be a viable approach, a number of accuracy issues are identified, including the limitations of 2D data, inaccuracies in commercial function data and problems with temporal attribution. These limitations currently restrict the more advanced applications of the Built Environment Model.

The full title of the paper and reference is:
Smith, D. A. and Crooks, A. T. (2010), From Buildings to Cities: Enabling the Multi-Scale Analysis of Urban Form and Function through the integration of Geographical and Geometric Methods. Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (University College London): Working Paper 155, London, England. (pdf)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

NetLogo GIS Examples from

While searching for some NetLogo GIS examples I came across this excellent web page by Owen Densmore from called "NetLogo Bag of Tricks" showcasing NetLogo's GIS functionality. There is a model of water traffic in Venice model and a simple model that reads census data and extracts features,showing them in different colors (both of which can be downloaded).

If any readers know of any other good NetLogo models using GIS data please leave a comment pointing us in the direction of them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Agent-based models: Why Use them?

I have just come across a few movies on YouTube by Miles Parker on "Why Agent-Based modeling?". These short movies offer a good introduction to agent-based models. The first part (below) explains why we might be interested into ABM and what they are.

The second movie (below) follows on from the first, looking at a specific application ABM, that of modeling H1N1 and contrasts ABM with a more traditional equation-based approaches to looking at disease transmission.

More movies by Miles on YouTube can be found here, while his blog (meta beta) is here. For more details about his H1N1 agent-based models click here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Avatars in OpenSim

OpenSim (OpenSimulator) "is a 3D Application Server. It can be used to create a virtual environment (or world) which can be accessed through a variety of clients, on multiple protocols." In a sense its similar to Second Life (SL) but one can host environment on ones own web server (Click here to see some of ourt previous work with SL).

One of the problems with using SL is that one has to own/rent the land in which the environment is created and housed. While with OpenSim one only needs a web server which in a sense is highly appealing for creating permanent environments. Another problem we encountered when using SL was the time it took to execute our agent-based models due to the SL servers. So when I was shown by Chris Rouly this latest test on the ScienceSim Beta Grid by Nebadon Izumi showing 1000 Avatars of mostly bots but some human controlled avatars in real time (as shown below), this got me thinking again about agent-based modeling in virtual worlds.

It would be nice to see Avatars (agents) populating real buildings such as the Ajax FC stadium below. Where the agents are programed to react to changing conditions such as evacuation in times of crisis.

The Ajax FC stadium (Source: KZero Worldswide)

One of our initial tests on using SL for the evacuation of buildings can be seen below. But in our example we only use a maximum of 100 agents but using 1000s of agents with real anthropomorphic dimensions in a 3D space and in real time is highly appealing.

Hurricane Landfall Game

With the hurricane season starting I was looking for models which explored the impacts of hurricanes when they make landfall and came across a game from University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) called "Disaster Dynamics: Hurricane Landfall: an experiential learning game." To quote from the website:
The game..."teaches players about interactions between natural hazards and human decisions in a Gulf Coast barrier island community. It is a strategy and negotiation computer game intended for use in undergraduate classes, and is designed for four players who are connected to one another via the Internet."

More information about the game can be found here:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

GMU Fiarfax Campus created with CityScape

I have just been exploring the demo version of CityScape from PixelActive and I am quite impressed. CityScape is an urban modeling tool that allows users to build both custom and real-world environments quickly and easily. The focus of the modeler is on allowing developers to concentrate on design rather than the labor involved in creation.

The movie below show my initial attempt of creating a agent-based traffic model around the Fairfax Campus of George Mason University. The model utilizes a real world elevation data downloaded from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Map, the road data comes from OpenStreetMap and the building footprints from the Geospatial Data Collection at Mason.

Some readers might find the movie below from an earlier post created in Repast Simphony an interesting comparison. Basically in this model, agents are pedestrians and they choose the shortest route between two buildings.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crime and Slums

This project focuses on the emergence of criminal activity due to the unmet human needs of those living in Rio's favelas. An agent-based model is developed to explore how human needs, environmental factors, and individual attributes impact state-level behaviors. The emergence of organized crime is observed as "common" criminals turn into gang members. The prevention of conflict requires policies that anticipate responses and avoid conflict. By "re-creating" the current environment, we have the ability to potentially predict the onset of violence where it does not yet exist or understand the source of conflict in those areas already in the midst of violence.

Selected outputs from this research: 

Pint, B., Crooks, A. T., and Geller, A. (2010), An Agent-based Model of Organized Crime: Favelas and the Drug Trade. 2nd Brazilian Workshop on Social Simulation, Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. (pdf)

50 Facts about Agent-Based Computing

I just found out about an interesting pamphlet entitled " 50 Facts about Agent-Based Computing" by Michael Luck and thought it was worth sharing. The pdf can be downloaded from here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Urban Modelling: Algorithms, Calibrations, Predictions

Mike Batty of CASA "Urban Modelling: Algorithms, Calibrations, Predictions" which was originally published in 1976 has been republished by popular demand!

The book covers a plethora of topics, introducing the reader to simulation models and the need for such methods. For example, "simulation methods are used to derive the behaviour of the system when the system is too complex to be modelled using the more direct analytic approach (Batty, 1976)."

The book provides a summary of the first generation of urban models referring to the key authors and models such as Lowry (1964) model and it successor including the Pittsburgh Time-Oriented Metropolitan Model (TOMM), the Projective Land Use Model (PLUM) for the San Francisco area, and a wide variety of Activity Allocation and Stocks-Activities models. The book presents how such models were mainly developed for practical planning situations through metropolitan planning agencies or consultants in North America and in several European cities. How at first, these models where developed with the aim of solving land-use and transportation questions, later being employed to address a wider range of urban problems.

Anyone interested in urban modelling and spatial interaction models is recommended to explore this book.

Lowry, I.S. (1964), A Model of Metropolis, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Agent Analyst Bird Migration Model

While I have blogged about Agent Analyst before (see here), the Redlands Institute have created some movies showing a simulation of bird migration patterns. While the exact details are not abundant, it appears they where developed to learn and demonstrate concepts relating to linking agent-based models with a GIS. Specifically using the Agent Analyst toolkit with Tracking Analyst in ArcMap (as shown in the movie below):

While this movie shows a live model run:

Finally the movie below shows how one can visualize the results in ESRI's ArcGlobe.

More movies from the Redlands Institute on YouTube can be found here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cormas and ComMod

Following on from the UVA Bay Game post I thought it was about time to blog about Cormas and the ComMod (Companion Modeling Approach) which focus on participatory agent-based modeling for resource management.

Why the interest? Take ecosystem management as an example, there are often many actors (stakeholders) who influence and control ecosystem management. For example, in the Chesapeake Bay there are farmers, local policy-makers, watermen, and developers. Such stakeholders have many different goals, associated feedbacks, negotiations etc... The question is how does one build models of such interactions?

Often when we build models of such interactions we do not always engage with stakeholders directly. Participatory modeling approaches such as companion modeling offers one way for such engagement. It uses various techniques, including role playing games in the sense that models are built with the direct involvement of stakeholders. Where modelers develop and validate model rules in conjunction with those one is modeling. Such a direct involvement of stakeholders focuses our attention on how decisions are made and what are the problems rather than just simulating the effects (e.g. Gimblett et al., 2002).

This brings me back to the ComMod approach and Cormas (an agent-based simulation framework, often used in conjunction with the ComMod approach). In the sense that ComMod is a iterative modeling process from the “bottom up.” ComMod provides an endless cycle of "field work and data analysis -> role playing games -> agent-based model development and implementation -> simulation -> field work again (Barreteau, 2003) as depicted below:

Some references for further reading:
  • Barreteau, F.O. and others (2003), 'Our Companion Modelling Approach', Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 6(1), Available at
  • Etienne, M. (2003), 'SYLVOPAST: A Multiple Target Role-Playing Game to Assess Negotiation Processes in Sylvopastoral Management Planning', Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 6(2), Available at
  • Gilbert, N., Maltby, S. and Asakawa, T. (2002), 'Participatory Simulations for Developing Scenarios in Environmental Resource Management', in Urban, C. (ed.), Third Workshop on Agent-Based Simulation, SCS European Publishing House, Passau, Germany, pp. 67-72.
  • Ramanath, A.M. and Gilbert, N. (2004), 'The Design of Participatory Agent-Based Social Simulations', Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 7(4), Available at

To see some Cormas examples (Click here). Click here to see the ComMod program at work and here for the ComMod site. While the movie below shows one application of Cormas:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Agent-based model the Chesapeake Bay watershed

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is the largest estuary in the United States, its drainage basin covers 166,534 km2 in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia (Wikipedia). It is home to around 27 million residents and is suffering many deteriorating environmental conditions brought on by a broad range of individuals, communities and industries that live and work in its boundaries.

The University of Virgina (UVA) has developed an agent-based model called Bay Game to explore the issues relating to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. To quote the site, the UVA Bay Game "allows players to take the roles of stakeholders, such as farmers, local policy-makers, watermen, and developers, make decisions about their livelihoods and professional expertise, and see the impacts of these decisions on the watershed and on each other over a twenty-year period. The Game is an educational tool for raising awareness about watershed stewardship; a tool for exploring and testing policy choices; and a tool for basic research in complex systems modeling."

More information about the UVA Bay Game can be found here. Below is a news clip featuring Philippe Cousteau who talks about the project.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jobs and PhD studentships at CASA, UCL

ENFOLD-ing: Explaining, Modelling and Forecasting Global Dynamics

ENFOLD-ing is a major new multi-discliplinary EPSRC research grant which has been awarded to UCL under the direction of Sir Alan Wilson. Seven UCL departments are involved in the project. Here is a summary of the 5 Research Associate vacancies and 3 PhD studentships:

Research Associate (Complexity Tools workstream) Ref: 1133129
Funded for three years in the first instance at Grade 7 spine point 29 (£31,778 including London Weighting)

This post is working with Steven Bishop and Frank Smith from UCL Mathematics. The main purpose is to initiate, develop, design and be responsible for the delivery of a programme of high quality research into the applied mathematics relevant to migration, trade, security and related issues of most interest to the overall aims of the ENFOLD-ing project. Essential skills include substantial knowledge & programming experience in any of the programming languages C#, C++, Java (or evidence of ability to learn new programming languages), a postgraduate qualification in mathematics or a mathematical science related area,and expertise in mathematical modelling and /or complex systems and ability to develop models related to migration, trade, security. For full details and to apply for this job, please review the advert on the UCL HR website.

Research Associate (Trade workstream) Ref: 1132947
Funded for three years in the first instance at Grade 7 spine point 29 (£31,778 including London Weighting)

This post is working with Francesca Medda from the UCL Centre for Transport Studies and Sir Alan Wilson from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. The main purpose is to develop models of international trade on a global scale and to contribute to the delivery of a global intelligence system to support the overall aims of the ENFOLD-ing project. Essential skills include expertise in mathematical modelling and /or complex systems, expertise in international trade and/or economics and substantial knowledge & programming experience in any of the programming languages C#, C++, Java, or evidence of ability to learn new programming languages. For full details and to apply for this job, please review the advert on the UCL HR website.

Research Associate (Migration workstream) Ref: 1132973
Funded for two years in the first instance at Grade 7 spine point 29 (£31,778 including London Weighting)

This post is primarily working with Pablo Mateos from UCL Geography and Michael Batty from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. The main purpose is to initiate, develop, design and be responsible for the delivery of a programme of high quality quantitative research into the relevant statistical, geographical and theoretical aspects related to migration analysis. Essential skills include substantial knowledge & programming experience in any of the following programming languages: C#, C++, Java, Python, knowledge and experience of designing, constructing and analysing large databases and a postgraduate qualification in either a quantitative speciality within a social science discipline (such as statistics, geography, economics, sociology, epidemiology/ public health, GIS, spatial analysis) or a science discipline with experience in social science applications (such as computer science, maths, physics, medicine, and any other relevant disciplines).

For full details and to apply for this job, please review the advert on the UCL HR website.

Research Associate (Security workstream) Ref: 1133143
Funded for five years in the first instance at Grade 7 spine point 29 (£31,778 including London Weighting)

This post is primarily working with Shane Johnson from UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science. The main purpose of the job, under the guidance of the investigators, is to initiate, develop, design and be responsible for the delivery of a programme of high quality research into security and related issues of most interest to the overall aims of the ENFOLD-ing project. Essential skills include expertise in statistical modelling and /or complex systems and ability to develop models related to security and crime, substantial knowledge & programming experience in any of the programming languages C#, C++, Java, Stata, R or evidence of ability to learn new programming languages and knowledge and experience of constructing and manipulating, or of making valuable use of, large databases. For full details and to apply for this job, please review the advert on the UCL HR website.

Research Associate (Synthesis workstream) Ref: 1132977
Funded for three years in the first instance at Grade 7 spine point 29 (£31,778 including London Weighting)

This post is primarily working with Sir Alan Wilson and Francesca Medda from the UCL Centre for Transport Studies. The main purpose is to initiate, develop, design and be responsible for the delivery of a global intelligence system, and some associated modelling, of most interest to the overall aims of the ENFOLD-ing project; this includes working in and contributing to the ENFOLD-ing team effort. Essential skills include expertise in mathematical modelling and/or complex systems, a postgraduate qualification in an area related to the ENFOLD project, skills in computer visualisation and substantial knowledge & programming experience in any of the programming languages C#, C++, Java, or evidence of ability to learn new programming languages. For full details and to apply for this job, please review the advert on the UCL HR website.

3 x PhD studentships are also available linked to the ENFOLD-ing project.
The studentship lasting for three years will cover tuition fees at home rate plus standard living expenses of £15,290 per annum. The studentships are linked to the following workstreams:

Trade workstream: Ref: 1133138
The applicants should possess a good honours degree (1st Class or 2:1 minimum) in any of the following disciplines: Economics, Statistics, Physics, Mathematics, Finance, or any related field. Knowledge in econometric and statistical analysis is highly desirable. It is beneficial if applicants have experience in numerical modelling and programming.
Full details, including eligibility and how to apply, are available on the UCL HR website.

Security workstream: Ref: 1133195
The applicants should posess:
(1) an MSc in a quantitative social science topic within political science, crime science, statistics, geography, economics, sociology, or a relevant discipline.
(2) strong motivation to conduct independent research on the field of security, and basic knowledge on contemporary security concerns
(3) excellent quantitative research skills in social sciences, including a good command of statistical analysis and programming knowledge of relevant packages (R, SAS, Stata, SPSS)
(4) the ability to work independently and take responsibility of a programme of work
(5) excellent written communication skills
Full details, including eligibility and how to apply, are available on the UCL HR website.

Migration workstream: Ref: 1133333
The applicants should possess a good honours degree (1st Class or 2:1 minimum) in any of the following disciplines: Economics, Statistics, Physics, Mathematics, Finance, or in any social science program with a strong quantitative component within Geography, Sociology, Epidemiology/ Public Health, GIS, Spatial Analysis or any other closely relevant subject area. An MSc in one of these areas or/and knowledge in econometric and statistical analysis is highly desirable. They should also have excellent quantitative research skills in social sciences including a good command of statistical analysis and programming knowledge of relevant packages (R, SAS,SPSS). As well as strong motivation to conduct independent research on the field of migration and basic knowledge of contemporary issues on migration.

Full details, including eligibility and how to apply, are available on the UCL HR website.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

AAG Sessions Finalized

The AAG has released their preliminary program for its up and coming Annual Meeting in Washington DC. Part of which are several sessions entitled Perspectives on Geographic Complexity. These sessions where organized by Arika Ligmann-Zielinska, Andrew Crooks, Alison Heppenstall, Moira Zellner, Suzana Dragicevic, Debarchana Ghosh, Tom Evans and Seth Spielman. The session description is as follows:

Understanding geographical systems represents one of the greatest challenges of our time. Complexity has emerged as a useful paradigm to effectively study linked human, socioeconomic, health, and biophysical systems at a variety of different spatial and temporal scales. As a result, descriptive and predictive models of various levels of sophistication and using mostly agents, genetic algorithms, cellular automata and neural networks are now beginning to regularly appear in the geographic literature. However, there still remains many unresolved conceptual, technical and application challenges associated with these complexity based models. The goal of this session is to focus on the following themes:

  1. Conceptual: shared and unique complexity signatures in geographic systems; existing and emerging geographical and complexity theories; epistemological and ontological influences; complexity based model designs; networks and hybrid models; linking classical and spatial statistics in complexity studies.
  2. Technical: space-time patterns and dynamics; standardizing the development and representation of complex systems; rule selection and implementation; multiple-scale interactions and structure, system evolution and self-organization; learning and adaptation; calibration, validation and verification; path-dependence; non-linearity.
  3. Applications: effectiveness of complexity models when embedded in political, institutional and socio-economic systems; human-environment interactions; earth systems science; land use science; landscape ecology; sustainability analysis; infectious and chronic disease; neighborhood effects on health.
We had numerous papers submitted and we have divided them up into 7 sessions as you can see below. The sessions start on Saturday, 4/17/10 and conclude on Sunday, 4/18/10.

Perspectives on Geographic Complexity (1): Theories and Methods

Saturday, 4/17/10, from 8:00 AM - 9:40 AM in Washington Room 5, Marriott Exhibition Level

Chair: Alison Heppenstall - University of Leeds


Authors: *Sara Metcalf & Michael Widener - University at Buffalo

Title: S(t)imulating (S)pace: Cultivating a Postmodern Geographic (Con)science

Authors: *Amit Patel, School of Public Policy, George Mason University, Phoram Shah - MPA

Title: Slum Formation Theory: A Simulation Approach

Authors: *Itzhak Benenson - Tel Aviv University, Israel, Erez Hatna - Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Title: Warning, the Rationality of Spatial Agents is Bounded!

Authors: *Monica Wachowicz - Wageningen UR, Jack Owens - Idaho State University

Abstract Title: Space-Time Representation of Narrative Knowledge

Author: *Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, - George Mason University

Title: MASON AfriLand: A Regional Multi-Country Agent-Based Model with Cultural and Environmental Dynamics

Perspectives on Geographic Complexity (2): Methods and Data Issues

Saturday, 4/17/10, from 10:00 AM - 11:40 AM in Washington Room 5, Marriott Exhibition Level

Chair: Alison Heppenstall - University of Leeds


Authors: *H. Van Dyke Parunak & Sven A. Brueckner- Vector Research Center, Division of TTGSI

Title: Polyagent-Based Mapping of Aleatoric Uncertainty in Geospatial Trajectories

Author: *Geoffrey Jacquez - BioMedware, Inc.

Title: space-time intelligence system software for the analysis of complex geographic systems

Authors: *Wenwu Tang - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, David A. Bennett - University of Iowa, Shaowen Wang - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Title: Parallel Agent-based Modeling for Large-scale Geographic Systems

Authors: *Burak Güneralp - Yale University, Michael K. Reilly - Stanford University, & Karen C. Seto - Yale University

Abstract Title: Simulating feedbacks across and among scales in land change science: An operational framework

Author: *Arika Ligmann-Zielinska - Michigan State University

Title: Variance-Based Global Sensitivity Analysis of Decision Making Mechanisms in an Agent-Based Model of Land Use Change

Perspectives on Geographic Complexity (3): Disease and Health Modeling

Saturday, 4/17/10, from 12:40 PM - 2:20 PM in Washington Room 5, Marriott Exhibition Level

Chair: Seth Spielman - Brown University


12:40 PM Author(s): *Debarchana Ghosh - Kent State University, Rajarshi Guha - National Institute of Health

Title: Identifying optimal risk factors for prediction and interpretation of West Nile virus occurrences using Neural Network

Author: *Gabriela Alcaraz V. - University of Hohenheim

Title: Use of GIS for the analysis of food and nutrition security. An application to Guatemala.

Authors: Joshua King - Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, *Peter J. Deadman - University of Waterloo

Title: An Agent Based Approach to Epidemiological Modelling of Malaria

Author: *Lara J. Iverson - SUNY University at Buffalo

Title: Incorporating Gender and Stigma in Modeling Tuberculosis Transmission: A Complex Systems Approach

Authors: *Monica Teran-Hernandez - Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico, Unam, Miguel Aguilar Robledo - Universidad AutÓnoma De San Luis Potosl, Jaqueline Calderon Hernandez - Universidad Autonoma De San Luis Potosl, Carlos Felix Garrocho Rangel - Colegio Mexiquense, Ac

Title: The Spatial Dynamics of oncogenic Human Papillomavirus Infection in women from San Luis Potosí, Mexico: Some Preliminary Results

Perspectives on Geographic Complexity (4): Agent-Based Modeling and Sustainability Science

Saturday, 4/17/10, from 2:40 PM - 4:20 PM in Washington Room 5, Marriott Exhibition Level

Chair: Steven M. Manson - University Of Minnesota


Author: *Qing Tian & Dan Brown - University of Michigan

Abstract Title: Exploring the Dynamics of Sustainability of Coupled Human-Environment Systems using Agent-based Modeling: A Case Study in the Poyang Lake Region of China

Authors: *Dawn C. Parker - University of Waterloo, Daniel G. Brown - University of Michigan
Tatiana Filatova - University of Twente, Rick Riolo - University of Michigan, Derek T. Robinson - University of Michigan, Shipeng Sun - University of Minnesota

Title: A first assessment of the role of land-market dynamics in agent-based land exchange models

Authors: *David A. Bennett - Department of Geography, University of Iowa, Wenwu Tang - Department of Geography and National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Title: Modeling the Sustainable Use of Common-Pool Resources Using Spatially Aware Intelligent Agents

Author: *Luis E. Fernandez - Carnegie Institution for Science

Title: A Coupled Agent Based Model Platform Examining the Sustainability of Biofuels Production in the Brazilian Cerrado

Authors: *Stephen J. Walsh - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill & Carlos F. Mena - Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Title: Land Use Change on Household Farms in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Perspectives on Geographic Complexity (5): Modeling Land Use and Land Cover Change

Saturday, 4/17/10, from 4:40 PM - 6:20 PM in Washington Room 5, Marriott Exhibition Level

Chair: Suzana Dragicevic - Simon Fraser University


4:40 PM Authors: *Moira Zellner - University of Illinois-Chicago & Antonio Aguilera - Colegio de San Luis

Abstract Title: Exploring the effects of land use policies in urban-rural fringe areas in the Mexican context: An agent-based approach

5:00 PM Authors: *Tom Evans - Indiana University, Kellly Caylor - Princeton University
Sean Sweeney - Indiana University, Mateus Batistella - EMBRAPA, Juliana Farinaci - University of Campinas, Emilio Moran - Indiana University

Abstract Title: Balancing Social and Ecological Complexity in Models of Reforestation in Indiana (USA) and São Paulo (Brazil)

5:20 PM Authors: *Christopher Bone, Lilian Alessa, Andy Kliskey - Resilience and Adaptive Management Group, University of Alaska Anchorage & Mark Altaweel - University of Chicago

Abstract Title: Simulating Community Resilience to Freshwater Dynamics with Social Agents

5:40 PM Authors: *Tim Gulden, Gabriel Balan, Jeffrey Bassett, Atesmachew B Hailegiorgis, William G Kennedy - George Mason University & Mark Rouleau - Michigan Technological University

Abstract Title: An agent-based model of land-use driven conflict among pastoralists in the Mandera region of East Africa

6:00 PM Author: *David Donato - United States Geological Survey

Abstract Title: Measuring Conformance of a Grid State to a Stochastic Cellular-Automata Land-Change Model

Perspectives on Geographic Complexity (6): Urban Systems I

Sunday, 4/18/10, from 8:00 AM - 9:40 AM in Washington Room 5, Marriott Exhibition Level

Chair: Moira Zellner - University of Illinois-Chicago


8:00 AM Authors: *Suzana Dragicevic & Liliana Perez - Simon Fraser University

Abstract Title: Simulating Disease Outbreak in an Urban Environment: Agent Based Approach

8:20 AM Author: *Atesmachew Hailegiorgis - Department of Computational Social Science, Center of Social Complexity, George Mason University

Abstract Title: Changing Residence in the City: An agent based model of Residential Mobility in Arlington County

8:40 AM Author: *Yichun Xie - Eastern Michigan University

Abstract Title: Simulating Urban Development in Water-constrained Northwest China: A Case Study along the Mid-Section of Silk Road

9:00 AM Authors: *Ninghua Wang - San Diego Stata University/University of California Santa Barbara & Lin Liu - University of Cincinnati

Abstract Title: Analyzing spatial effects of hotspot policing with a simulation approach

9:20 AM Authors: *Dominik P.H. Kalisch, *Hermann Koehler, Reinhard Koenig, Jens Steinhoefel & Frauke Anders - Bauhaus University, Weimar

Abstract Title: Computer-Based Methods for a Socially Sustainable Urban and Regional Planing

Perspectives on Geographic Complexity (7): Urban Systems II

Sunday, 4/18/10, from 10:00 AM - 11:40 AM in Washington Room 5, Marriott Exhibition Level

Chair: Andrew Crooks - George Mason University


Authors: *Fraser Morgan & David O’Sullivan - University of Auckland

Abstract Title: Residential developers: Competition, behaviour and the resulting urban landscape

Authors: *Christian Urich, Robert Sitzenfrei, & Wolfgang Rauch - Unit of Environmental Engineering, University of Innsbruck

Abstract Title: Stochastic Design of Urban Areas for Benchmarking Energy Strategies

Authors: *Raymond Cabrera & Peter J Deadman - University of Waterloo

Abstract Title: Household networks and urbanization in an agent-based model of the Amazonian varzea

Authors: *Jing Wu & Zheng Wang - Chinese Academy of Sciences

Abstract Title: Agent-based simulation of the spatial evolution of the historical population in China

Author: *Hoda Osman - George Mason University

Title: Urban Growth and Land Titling: An agent-based comparative model of two Informal Settlements in Cairo, Egypt

All the sessions are sponsored by the AAG's
Spatial Analysis and Modeling Specialty Group
Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group
Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group

Note * represents the speaker

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I just been exploring, a website based on the research lab of Cultural Complexity at The University of Western Ontario, Canada.

The lab is interested in understanding processes related " the creation, transmission, and representation of culture, and how these processes shape the human experience" combing different academic disciplines (e.g. philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and economics). One thing that caught my attention is the Virtual Laboratory for the Study of Cultural Dynamics (VCL), a NetLogo model which explores how information changes when exchanged among individuals (click here to read more about the model).

The models are a nice example on how different .txt files can be loaded into NetLogo along with how altering certain parameters at run time alters the results. The VCL editor (used to define the world one wishes to simulate) can be found here, while the VCL machine (which then runs the simulation, generating results) can be found here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Advances in Spatial Analysis & e-Social Science

CASA at UCL are running a one day conference on 13th April which will feature the work of their group on projects associated with their research funded by various UK research councils. The conference is free but you have to register. It is also the day before the UK’s annual conference on GIS called GISRUK which is on the 14-16th April. This conference is chargeable and details can be got from the CASA conference site.

If you want to go to the one day CASA meeting “Advances in Spatial Analysis & e-Social Science”, then please go to the registration site at: and register.
You can get to the GISRUK site from here at

If you need any more information about this meeting email The programme for the CASA meeting is listed below

Session One (AM)
  • Online exploration of cultural regions, migration and ethnicity using the geography of personal names - Paul Longley & Pablo Mateos
  • Spatial Interaction Models for Higher Education - Alex Singleton & Ollie O’Brien
  • The Dynamics of Skyscrapers: Scaling, Allometry, and Sustainability - Michael Batty
  • Development of an urban growth model using high-resolution historical data - Kiril Stanilov

Session Two (PM)
  • The research frontier in urban modelling: the agenda and the challenges - Alan Wilson
  • On-line Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Network Data and Road Developments - Tao Cheng
  • Twitter Tags and Real-Time Visualisation of Complex Geographic Data with MapTube - Richard Milton
  • Tales of Things and Electronic Memory – Creating and Mapping The Geography of Everything - Andrew Hudson-Smith

Panel Discussion with Mike Goodchild, Keith Clarke, David Maguire, Carl Steinitz

Coffee at convenient points, find you own lunch, then Reception in the Wilkins Building, main quad