Posts Tagged ‘Agent-Based Model’

Agents Agents Agents

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

This article review other articles and provide a brief definition on terms that are quite difficult to find, even in Google, such as ‘Artificial Life Geospatial Agents’ (ALGA) representing a computer model that may be independent programming code interacting with other code or a single piece of software itself that use computational models to imitate  an individual’s behavioral responses to an external stimuli. It is a crucial tool to model interactions and behaviors between humans, animals and the natural environment.


Unlike ALGA, ‘Software Geospatial Agents’(SGA) is used to manage information and making decisions in hardware and software environment, and it is designed to manage geographically explicit information, such as a geographic coordinate, on behalf of an entity, which can be a person, a software or even hardware.


These agents share couple of common points. For instance, they are both a predominant type of agents in GIScience and they both perceive and respond rationally to new situations to new situations and their environment In addition, they are enable to handle the unique qualities of geospatial data as well.

This article demonstrates further explanations and examples to demonstrate the minimum requirements for a piece of software code to be considered as an “agent” in the AI literature and then, the authors question the existence a Geospatial Agent and underline its importance to both ALGA and SGA. They argue that as much as AI requires spatial information, without it, AI is likely to fail. It sounded quite convincing and all until they mentioned how geographic coordinates as a part of IP specifications could benefit the SGA and Internet community…my skeptical ego just woke up and oh well…Nonetheless of my regard in that specific example, this article in overall did a good job in reviewing other agents-related articles and explaining the roles and definitions of the intelligent agents and of course underlined the uniqueness and importance of geospatial agents that are playing and will be playing in the future by handling geospatial data, which makes it so unique and valuable.

It required me to re-re-re-read this article over and over because the terminology and concept was very unfamiliar and uneasy for me, but it was still quite interesting and always good to learn new terminologies…sometimes… 😛


Agent-Based Modeling: Computation and Cost?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Agent-based modeling (ABM) can do ANYTHING — the basic claim being made by Eric Bonabeau in his article, Agent-based modeling: Methods and techniques for simulating human systems.  And indeed, it does appear that ABM is quite useful, particularly when examining heterogeneous populations, as we can see in “virtually every example in this article”, to quote the author himself.  While I still wonder about the validity of ABM in certain situations, and can’t help but feel unsure about the authors’ exuberant claims in his writing, there was one thing particularly that I found missing from this article: computation and cost.

While Bonabeau does devote one or two sentences at the very end of the article to the high level of computational power required for these types of models, he does not, in my opinion, adequately express not only how important this one factor may be, but also all the additional factors inherent with data-heavy models such as this.  For example, he makes no reference to the amount of data collection that must go into creating these models.  Even a basic GIS user understands that a superficial layer of data is not interesting, but anything more than that requires a lot of commitment to collecting data.  In this case, working with human systems, to me that implies surveying people about their behaviours, how they make decisions, and so on.  This means time and monetary commitment.  And this leads to my larger criticism: the most telling aspect was how the companies he referred to were primarily established, and I would assume, wealthy, companies or organizations who could afford to use ABMs to make better management decisions.  Despite this, nowhere does he discuss cost.  Surely this technology does not come cheap?  And if it does, wouldn’t that make it even more desirable, and worthwhile to include?

With this knowledge, the reader (and potential user) could make a more informed decision about if ABM is not only useful, but at all possible, for them.  In the end, an interesting overview of applications of ABM, but lacking in answers to a few important questions.

Bonabeau, Eric. “Agent-based Modeling: Methods and Techniques for Simulating Human Systems.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99.10 (2002): 7280-7287. Print.