16 June 2016: Guest lecture - Bruce Edmonds on "Computing the sociology of survival"

Published on
May 25, 2016

This guest lecture has been organized by Silico Centre Wageningen & Information Technology group.

Time: 12.30h-13.15h, Location: C62, Leeuwenborch

Bruce Edmonds is Professor of Social Simulation at the Manchester Metropolitan University and Director of the Centre for Policy Modelling there. His first degree was in Mathematics and his PhD was in Philosophy looking at the meaning and definition of complexity. He now does social simulation - a cross between sociology and distributed artificial intelligence.

Lecture: Computing the Sociology of Survival;
How to use simulations to understand complex socio-ecological systems and maybe save the world.

The talk will start by looking at a fundamental dilemma - many
systems are too complex to understand by traditional scientific means. Models that are analytically solvable miss out vital interactions and processes and hence relate poorly to what is observed. Models that include all the important processes can only be adequately represented by simulations we do not fully understand. The solution proposed is to stage abstraction, using a 'chain' of related models rather than a single model. In this way we can retain relevance to evidence but also bootstrap some understanding of what is happening.

People and their cultures are complex systems and so are
ecologies of organisms. When these are combined in socio-ecological systems (SES) the resultant system is doubly complex. Yet if we are to avoid the extinction of many species, including possibly our own, we will need to understand SES in their full complexity. The second half of the talk will look at a model which intimately embeds a society of agents within a complex ecology, and so allows the exploration of how cultural traits might influence long-term species diversity and human survival.

Registration is needed for attending this guest lecture. Please register yourself by sending an email to

This guest lecture is organized by the chair group Information Technology.