Saturday, December 5, 2009

Asimov's fictional model used now

I grew up reading science fiction. One of my very favorite authors was Isaac Asimov. He brought hard science into his stories in ways that made them ever so much more engaging and "real" to me as a science-enthused youngster of the 1950's. My favorite of his longer works was his Foundation trilogy (at least in the fifties...he later wrote several surrounding stories to expand on that future world).

The stories of this series were started by exposing readers to a brilliant mathematician named Hari Seldon, who used his skills to forecast actions of the many worlds in his civilization far into the future. Imagine MY surprise when I find out current, real-world arithmeticians are using current computers to work down the path he created in his stories!

Here is the abstract of the work done:
The Seldon model combines concepts from agent-based
modeling and social network analysis to create a computation
model of social dynamics for terrorist recruitment.
The underlying recruitment model is based on
a unique hybrid agent-based architecture that contains
simple agents (individuals such as expatriates) and abstract
agents (conceptual entities such as society and
mosques). Interactions between agents are determined
by multiple social networks which form and dissipate
according to the actions of the individual. We have implemented
a Java-based toolkit to evaluate the dynamics
of social behavior and the specific dynamics associated
with terrorist recruitment described by expert social scientists,
creating an architecture for simple adaptation to
other group phenomenon.
A fellow science fiction fan/ham radio operator sent me this link today (it is a Portable Document File). I'm pleased to expose you to it.

And researchers at Virginia Tech are using 163 variables from 100 gigabytes of population data to help them to determine possible influenza spread. Discussion of the effort can be found here.

Comments welcomed.

No comments:

Post a Comment