Development of spatial agent-based models to sustainability science and ecosystem service assessment, integration of agent-based model with biophysical process based model, improvement of theory of GIScience and land use change science, development of spatial analytical approach (all varieties of spatial regression), spatial data modeling including data mining, linking processes such as climate change, market, and policy to study patterns.
Agent Based Modelling for spatial systems
disaster resilience, flooding, ecosystem services, coupled human natural systems, land use change, hydrology, remote sensing, complexity science
One of my research areas is agent-based modelling of land change in Brazil. I have worked with ABM in frontier areas of the Brazilian Amazon. I am also part of the team that develops TerraME, an OSS toolkit for ABM in cellular spaces.
The big picture question driving my research is how do complex systems of interactions among individuals / agents result in emergent properties and how do those emergent properties feedback to affect individual / agent decisions. I have explored this big picture question in a number of different contexts including the evolution of cooperation, suburban sprawl, traffic patterns, financial systems, land-use and land-change in urban systems, and most recently social media. For all of these explorations, I employ the tools of complex systems, most importantly agent-based modeling.
My current research focus is on understanding the dynamics of social media, examining how concepts like information, authority, influence and trust diffuse in these new media formats. This allows us to ask questions such as who do users trust to provide them with the information that they want? Which entities have the greatest influence on social media users? How do fads and fashions arise in social media? What happens when time is critical to the diffusion process such as an in a natural disaster? I have employed agent-based modeling, machine learning, geographic information systems, and network analysis to understand and start to answer these questions.
Gary Polhill did a degree in Artificial Intelligence and a PhD in Neural Networks before spending 18 months in industry as a professional programmer. Since 1997 he has been working at the Institute on agent-based modelling of human-natural systems, and has worked on various international and interdisciplinary projects using agent-based modelling to study agricultural systems, lifestyles, and transitions to more sustainable ways of living. In 2016, he was elected President of the European Social Simulation Association, and was The James Hutton Institute’s 2017 Science Challenge Leader on Developing Technical and Social Innovations that Support Sustainable and Resilient Communities.
Modeling land use change from smallholder agricultural intensification
Agricultural expansion in the rural tropics brings much needed economic and social development in developing countries. On the other hand, agricultural development can result in the clearing of biologically-diverse and carbon-rich forests. To achieve both development and conservation objectives, many government policies and initiatives support agricultural intensification, especially in smallholdings, as a way to increase crop production without expanding farmlands. However, little is understood regarding how different smallholders might respond to such investments for yield intensification. It is also unclear what factors might influence a smallholder’s land-use decision making process. In this proposed research, I will use a bottom-up approach to evaluate whether investments in yield intensification for smallholder farmers would really translate to sustainable land use in Indonesia. I will do so by combining socioeconomic and GIS data in an agent-based model (Land-Use Dynamic Simulator multi-agent simulation model). The outputs of my research will provide decision makers with new and contextualized information to assist them in designing agricultural policies to suit varying socioeconomic, geographic and environmental contexts.
Professor, School of Human Evolution & Social Change
Professor, School of Complex Adaptive Systems
Affiliate Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University
My interests center around long-term human ecology and landscape dynamics with ongoing projects in the Mediterranean (late Pleistocene through mid-Holocene) and recent work in the American Southwest (Holocene-Archaic). I’ve done fieldwork in Spain, Bosnia, and various locales in North America and have expertise in hunter/gatherer and early farming societies, geoarchaeology, lithic technology, and evolutionary theory, with an emphasis on human/environmental interaction, landscape dynamics, and techno-economic change.
Quantitative methods are critical to archaeological research, and socioecological sciences in general. They are an important focus of my research, especially emphasizing dynamic modeling, spatial technologies (including GIS and remote sensing), statistical analysis, and visualization. I am a member of the open source GRASS GIS international development team that is making cutting edge spatial technologies available to researchers and students around the world.