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My model (!)

JoshCarp's picture
Here's my latest Netlogo model, a simulation of ants searching a field for food. Hopefully the model (with documentation) explains itself; if not, feel free to ask. Here it is


PaulGrobstein's picture

I like your new model. But ... I have no way of knowing what I see in it is the same thing you see in it. If we're really serious about modelling as a "as a tool to extend the possibilities of thought" then a part of laying out a model ought to be some clear statement of how the creator of the model had his/her thoughts extended. Others may, of course, not see it that way, or may see/use the model for other things, but I (for one) would like to know, as a starting point, what the modeller saw that made it seem worthwhile.
JoshCarp's picture

Sorry I wasn't clearer about this. My hope in writing this model was that the system of ants could, at the group level, be made more efficient (at gathering food) given particular parameters of the behavior of its constituents. The system functions better, empirically, when ants use 'scent' to mark and locate food sources; presumably there are optimal values for each of the model parameters, although those might vary with different distributions of food. As for extensions of thought (maybe a lofty aspiration for a throwaway project), my hope was to observe interactions of multiple sorts of agents (one sort of which can exist in two distinct states) and a changing environment. More of the same, I guess. I couldn't say if my thoughts have been extended, or if they will. I hadn't thought of models as serving that sort of purpose, honestly. But now that it's been brought to my attention, I'm curious about the motivation behind the safe/bold model. What marks it as especially interesting, and what do we hope to gain from it, thought-wise?
PaulGrobstein's picture

On both counts. "throwaway projects", ie playing with the modelling environment to get one's own feel for its potentials (and problems), is not only worthwhile but pretty much where I'd expect everyone to be at the moment. The comment wasn't really aimed at you (or anyone else) for now but rather to encourage everyone to begin the process of figuring out what we've got here other than (perhaps) "surprise".

Along which lines, I admit to "playing" myself with safe/bold, to stretching my legs a bit just to see if I could do it. And I certainly agree there isn't anything "surprising" there, to say nothing of requiring an "extension of thought". I did want to show you all an explicit example of the multilevel architecture notion, and will be content if safe/bold serves no greater purpose.

On the other hand, I am quite serious about the notion that modelling can help by showing that something one thought was quite complicated/sophisticated can be done simply. And I've had it in mind for some time to try and show that, in something like the present way, for various features of the dynamic interaction between conscious and unconscious processing in the brain (as well as between exploration and homeostasis in living things generally). So stay tuned (or join in). Whatever the shortcomings of the present implementation, I think Mark N may prove both surprising and instructive.

Boldly, if not safely ...

AngadSingh's picture

Kathy's instructions for posting models online require a BMC email account. I noticed you put yours online through Haverford's storage server - is it easy to do? Not that I have any models worth sharing...but I have faith
Doug Blank's picture

No, you don't need a BMC account. Kathy's instructions were for the Computer Science account that you all have.
BenKoski's picture

Publishing applets/documents to your Haverford webspace is easy to do, too. Anything that you put into the "public_html" folder inside your user folder on the storage server appears at The official directions are here.