Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Towards Large-Scale Agent-Based Geospatial Simulation

Running large scale spatial agent-based models is often a computational challenge. To address this challenge, at the upcoming International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling and Prediction and Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation (or SBP-BRiMS for short), Umar Manzoor, Hamdi KavakJoon-Seok Kim, Dieter Pfoser, Andreas Zufle, and Carola Wenk and myself have a paper entitled "Towards Large-Scale Agent-Based Geospatial Simulation."

In the paper we propose a scalable and general agent-based modeling and simulation framework for geospatial simulations involving networks. Specifically we propose to a solution for the parallelization of the single-threaded GeoMASON tookit by employing the Java Agent Development Environment (JADE) for the communication between threads (essentially, we divide the space of our agents into partitions, each handled by a separate thread of execution). We evaluate the proposed framework an simple urban model (created in MASON), which simulates simple patterns of life within an urban setting (click here for the blog post). The model has spatial network for agent movement and social network for maintaining social links. We compared the performance of the proposed framework on different settings, and concluded from experimentation that the proposed framework is outperformed by GeoMason when the agent population is small whereas with an increasing agent population, our proposed framework outperforms GeoMason as the complexity and time taken in simulation step increases substantially. If this sounds of interest, below we provide the abstract to the paper, along with some images of the framework and and simulation architecture. At the bottom of the page you can find the full citation and a link to the paper.

Abstract. Agent-based geospatial simulations have become very popular and widely used in examining the social and cultural characteristics of populations. Well-known toolkits such as NetLogo or MASON generally have scalability limitations, especially when the model and underlying spatial infrastructure become complex. This paper presents a framework for simulating large-scale agent-based geospatial systems by integrating the multi-agent systems toolkit JADE with the MASON agent-based modeling framework and its GIS extension, GeoMASON. The proposed Java-based framework can simulate large areas with hundreds of thousands of agents. It allows for the studying the evolution of a population and its environment over time. Such a framework provides the essential first steps for scalable model execution without sacrificing the model generality. 

Keywords: Large-scale geospatial simulation, Agent-based Modeling, MASON, Jade, GIS.

System Architecture of Proposed Framework.
Agent transfer between Zones.
Simulation using Proposed Architecture.

Full Reference:

Manzoor, U., Kavak, H., Kim, J-S., Crooks, A.T., Pfoser, D., Zufle, A. and Wenk, C. (2021), Towards Large-Scale Agent-Based Geospatial Simulation, 2021 International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling and Prediction and Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation, Washington DC. (pdf)