Hutton event attracts global interest in social simulation


A WEEK-long summer school in advanced computer simulation methods to help solve challenges from health issues to climate change has attracted specialists from all over the world to Aberdeen this week.

The European Social Simulation Association Summer School, organised by and being held at The James Hutton Institute, is being attended by experts, from ecologists to psychologists, learning about how agent-based modelling could solve the problems they’re trying to address. 

Unlike normal computer simulation, agent-based modelling can simulate a wide variety of outcomes of particular events or decisions, because it looks at the different ways each participant in an event might act and interact with others.

The event is being held at the Hutton’s campus in Craigiebuckler from Monday 28 August to Friday September 1. Attendees at the event have come from everywhere from the Netherlands to Japan. 

Dr Gary Polhill, a scientist at the Hutton and lead organiser of the event, says, “For some time, agent-based modelling has been a bit of a lonely activity, with most universities or institutes perhaps having just one expert. But because of how well this technique can address the big problems we face today, such as climate change and health, we’re seeing increasing interest in its potential.

“This week, here in Aberdeen, we have experts talking about how they’re using it for everything from looking at rewilding in Scotland to the Dutch energy transition. Climate change and the circular economy in particular are big areas of focus, especially around behavioural change – such as the shift to a reduced meat diet or how we can live more decarbonised lifestyles.

“More broadly, land use change and our relationship with land, from flood risk to agriculture and reforestation, is a big focus for agent-based modelling work, not least here in Scotland where these issues can be very complex but extremely pertinent.” 

For more information, visit: European Social Simulation Association Summer School in Social Simulation 2023 | The James Hutton Institute

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