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Workshop Targets Control-Theoretic Approaches for Agent-based Models

September 23, 2009

Virus photo. Agent-based models (ABMs) are powerful computer-simulation modeling techniques that are used increasingly to understand a broad range of biological phenomena, such as tumor growth, the immune system, and the spread of infectious diseases through a population.

Researchers gathered Dec. 1-3 at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), campus to discuss ways to develop mathematical control theory methods for ABMs.

ABMs simulate the actions and interactions of autonomous individual parts, or agents, with a view to assessing the effects on the system as a whole. By simulating the simultaneous operation of multiple agents, ABMs can re-create and predict the actions of complex phenomena.

In order to study the effectiveness of possible interventions, such as vaccination and quarantine schemes, in biomedical problems, ABMs must be simulated numerous times to compare alternative intervention scenarios, which is a limitation of ABMs. Results of ABMs are not optimal solutions, but rather scenarios with various assumptions. Applying analytic methods to study how possible interventions affect system dynamics might be more useful. Thus, the goal of the workshop is to discuss the possibility of developing control-theoretic approaches for ABMs, which could be applied in studying interventions.

The ABM Workshop was organized by Filippo Castiglione from the Institute for Computing Applications, Rome; Volker Grimm from UFZ Center for Environmental Research, Leipzig; Reinhard Laubenbacher from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute; and Suzanne Lenhart, NIMBioS Associate Director of Education and Outreach and UTK Professor of Mathematics.

NIMBioS Investigative Workshops involve up to 35 participants, of which about half are invited. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic can also apply to attend. For more information about the Agent-based Models Workshop and how to apply for NIMBioS workshops, visit http://www.nimbios.org.

The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) brings together researchers from around the world to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to investigate solutions to basic and applied problems in the life sciences. NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

For more information, contact Catherine Crawley at 865-974-9350 or ccrawley@nimbios.org

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NIMBioS Investigative Workshops involve up to 35 participants, focus on a broad topic or a set of related topics, attempt to summarize/synthesize the state of the art and identify future directions, and have potential for leading to one or more future Working Groups. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic, including post-docs and graduate students, are encouraged to apply. If needed, NIMBioS can provide support (travel, meals, lodging) for Workshop attendees, whether from a non-profit or for-profit organization.


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NSF logo. NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
 
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