Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Humans of Simulated New York: comprehensive ABM model of city life

Here is a very interesting project that aims towards building agent based models to simulate cities and the impacts of policies on them. The project is available on GitHub. Kudos to the authors, who are all on Twitter btw Francis TsengFei Liu and Bernardo Furtado.

Tseng, F., Liu, F., & Furtado, B. A. (2017). Humans of Simulated New York (HOSNY): an exploratory comprehensive model of city life. arXiv preprint arXiv:1703.05240.

The model presented in this paper experiments with a comprehensive simulant agent in order to provide an exploratory platform in which simulation modelers may try alternative scenarios and participation in policy decision-making. The framework is built in a computationally distributed online format in which users can join in and visually explore the results. Modeled activity involves daily routine errands, such as shopping, visiting the doctor or engaging in the labor market. Further, agents make everyday decisions based on individual behavioral attributes and minimal requirements, according to social and contagion networks. Fully developed firms and governments are also included in the model allowing for taxes collection, production decisions, bankruptcy and change in ownership. The contributions to the literature are multifold. They include (a) a comprehensive model with detailing of the agents and firms' activities and processes and original use of simultaneously (b) reinforcement learning for firm pricing and demand allocation; (c) social contagion for disease spreading and social network for hiring opportunities; and (d) Bayesian networks for demographic-like generation of agents. All of that within a (e) visually rich environment and multiple use of databases. Hence, the model provides a comprehensive framework from where interactions among citizens, firms and governments can be easily explored allowing for learning and visualization of policies and scenarios.

credit: Francis Tseng

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Quote of the day: the idea of community

A passage of the book "The Just City", where Susan Fainstein quotes D. Harvey to draw attention to how the idea of "Community" is a double-edged value. At the same time a community provides its members with social support, it is also exclusionary.

" 'Community' has ever been one of the key sites of social control and surveillance, bordering on overt social repression. Well-founded communities often exclude, define themselves against others, erect all sorts of keep-out signs (if not tangible walls) .... As a consequence, community has often been a barrier to rather than facilitator of progressive social change, and much of the populist migration out of villages (both rural and urban) arose precisely because they were oppressive to the human spirit and otiose as a form of sociopolitical organization". (David Harvey, 1997)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Chart of the Day: the gender gap in science

Elsevier has recently published the report "Gender in the Global Research Landscape", in which they analyze 'research performance through a gender lens across 20 years, 12 geographies, and 27 subject areas'. The team at The Economist wrote a short summary of the report, showing this chart. 

Thanks Claudio Ferraz for the pointer on twitter.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Demographic fact of the day

Nigeria is the fastest growing countries in the world. The population of Nigeria will nearly double in the next 30 years.

Very interesting episode of BBC's Economic Tectonics on how economic power will shift as the world’s population changes, by Ruth Alexander.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Creative Process

This comes in cycles and I'm currently at stage #2, again.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The world's tallest and most densely populated slums

A short video about Tower of David, possibly the tallest slum today, located in Caracas, Venezuelza. (Thanks Telmo Ribeiro and Lucas Mation for the pointer)

And a short video about Kowloon Walled City of Hong Kong, which was of the most densely populated slums in the world until being demolished in 1994.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Special issue on Human migration and refugees

Nature has a new special issue on migration and refugees (via Nicolsa Perra).

The United Nations has declared that the number of displaced people has surged to unprecedented numbers. But a close examination of data reveals that current flows are just as high as in they were in the 1990s. Because it is difficult to track refugees, official data and statistics must be handled with care, and yet misleading reports are creating unjustified fears about refugees.

source: UNHCR via Nature

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Alternative Facts

via Daniel Pessini Sobreira on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Quote of the day: Plans

For when you start your PhD: 
"Plans are worthless, but planning is everything" Eisenhower

When you get close to the end of your PhD:
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson

I could say Mike Tyson is my academic hero right now :)