Describe how you would model a complex adaptive system

Posted April 17, 2017 by ilee

Reflect on the complex adaptive system (perhaps one you identified after watching the Complex Adaptive Systems video). Describe the phenomenon in terms of how you might model it

What is the phenomenon you thought was a complex adaptive system?

  • Who/what are the agents?
  • What is the environment?
  • What are the interactions between agents and/or between agents and the environment?

Post your thoughts to the forum below, and come back later to read other entries and comment on another teacher's response.

See the Model Observation Form document.


Submitted by eso on Fri, 06/02/2017 - 22:57 · Permalink

The circulation of particulates (namely trash) in the ocean to form the gyres. The agents in this case would be trash and maybe fish and their predators. The environment would be the ocean and land masses. The interactions would be the effect of the currents on the location of the trash.  The trash would mostly come from the land and could be eaten by the fish and their predators. 

This model could be used to either model gyre formation or bioaccumulation of toxins in animals.

Submitted by Shaw'sae Dodson on Sun, 06/04/2017 - 08:32 · Permalink

Describe how you would model a complex adaptive system?

I would model a complex adaptive system by using a similar example to the one used in the video with the ecosystem but I would like to use different amounts of CO2 in water to explore how different levels of CO2 affect the growth of algae blooms and how algae blooms affects the fish or other aquatic life.  

Submitted by Bright_Eyed_Science on Thu, 06/08/2017 - 17:02 · Permalink

I am having an incredibly difficult time coming up with ABM scenarios for non-living systems that do not involve human behavior (e.g. stock market, infrastructure, supply chains, etc). Is anyone willing to provide a few examples? I'm convinced my previous example of modeling evaporite formation in a shallow tropical sea is not appropriate for ABM and doesn't represent the true spirit of CAS. 

In terms of living systems, I would be interested in modeling the effect of introducing Wolbachia infected male Aedes aegypti mosquitos on the population density and distribution of Zika infected Aedes aegypti in the US. 

  • Agents: mosquitos (infected male adults, non-infected male adults, bacterial infected female adults, viral infected female adults, eggs, larva, pupa), predators (fish, bats, birds, frogs, dragonflies), food (microorganisms, particulate organic matter, plant nectar, humans, other mammals) 
  • Environment: terrestrial habitat, aquatic habitat
  • Interactions: predator-prey interactions, competition for food, competition for habitat, reproduction, viral infection of humans through feeding, bacterial infection of mosquitoes through reproduction,

Submitted by jsimpson on Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:27 · Permalink

I am thinking about how we (teachers at our school) might use Complex Adaptive Systems to help students understand energy flow (10% rule) through an ecosystem this might also be layered with how populations and communities interact throughout an ecosystem.  

Agents would be the organisms of an ecosystem including biotic and abiotic factors.  

The environment could be the area on our school grounds or community.  We also have a state park and a designated natural area very close to us.  We could look at these in particular.  

The interactions of the agents would be consumption of other agents, reproduction, use of natural resources (water, air, etc.).  Space:  Understanding carrying capacity of the area.  Interaction of humans on a specific ecosystem.  There would be many possibilities.  I could see where once we have identified some of these, we would have to limit our model.  Maybe different groups of students could have different limits?

Submitted by jgurbada on Tue, 06/13/2017 - 14:22 · Permalink

A phenomenon that comes to mind for complex adaptive systems is the spread of disease. 

  • Who/what are the agents?
    • healthy individuals
    • sick individuals
  • What is the environment?
    • school (somewhere people come into contact with each other)
    • if possible, have a cure for the disease as part of the environment (I'm thinking plants that people use for medicine)
  • What are the interactions between agents and/or between agents and the environment?
    • agents interact with themselves - if a healthy person comes in contact with a sick person there is a chance they might get sick as well (I would need to research what the chances are for a specific disease)
    • if a sick person comes in contact with a sick person, nothing happens
    • if a healthy person comes in contact with a healthy person, nothing happens
    • agents interact with time (death)
    • agents interact with environment (plants) - if a sick individual interacts with a plant, there is a chance this causes them to heal (they are no longer sick) 

Submitted by llegault on Tue, 06/13/2017 - 14:25 · Permalink

The complex adaptive system I chose was an energy pyramid. The agents are the organisms in each level-the bottom level producers such as grass: the second level primary consumers such as grasshoppers; the third level secondary consumers such as frogs; the fourth level tertiary consumers such as snakes, and so forth.  Each level gets smaller because each level only has enough energy to support a limited number of higher functioning consumers on the next level. The environment would be one of the ones we study in Indiana: wetlands, lakes, forest, or urban. The interactions would include the producers growing and providing energy for primary consumers. Thus, the primary consumers would eat  the producers and the secondary/tertiary consumers are predators of the preceding levels. Lack of agents in any one level could affect the ecosystem by decreasing or increasing the number of available plants and animals.

Submitted by hjoyal on Tue, 06/27/2017 - 16:23 · Permalink

So I had identified the different spheres that interact on our planet and how people behave as a result. Agents are wind, precipitation, tectonic plate movements, the convection in the mantle, how people respond to natural disasters. Each one of these interactive with each other. Not to mention the Sun itself, uneven distribution of heating and cooling of planet causing winds, rotation, revolution, etc. I can see creating a simulation where as we progress through the year and introduce topics we can eliminate some agents and add others and constantly be assessing and reassessing data and interpreting our findings. 

Submitted by bonitagirl on Mon, 07/17/2017 - 21:16 · Permalink

I would try how humans might interact with any planet or moon to see how we could live there. There have been moons or planets that might be habitable. In working with the space TEKS in my state, this would fit in nicely. 

Submitted by jfretz on Fri, 07/28/2017 - 18:49 · Permalink

The phenomenon of the stellar life cycle could be a complex adaptive system, with the following components and interactions needed to model it:

The agents are the particles of gases and dust in a nebula.

The environment is interstellar space.

Atoms/molecules in the nebula would interact with each other based on the "rules" determined by their electron configurations. In other words, interactions between agents would largely be based on the reactivity of the particular atoms/molecules.  However, agent-to-agent interactions would also be tempered by the environmental conditions of temperature, pressure, friction, and gravitational attraction due to mass.  For example, atoms/molecules in a more densely packed region of the nebula would tend to react more due to their proximity to each other.  

Submitted by Sammie on Sun, 07/30/2017 - 11:09 · Permalink

I was thinking of the relationship between: deer, cougars, plants Agents: deer, cougars, grass Environment: forest/meadow

Interactions we'd see: deer-grass cougar-deer I believe we would also be able to incorporate environmental factors: drought, pollution, habitat destruction, etc

Submitted by Amy_Myers on Sun, 07/30/2017 - 14:53 · Permalink

The original CAS I had in mind was the human body itself. There are a multitude of different directions we could take this. One idea would be to think of a virus entering the body.

Agents: Virus, T-Cell, Interferons, Antibodies, T Cell Receptors, MCH class I, body cells, NK Cells

Environment: Human Body

Interactions: MCH class I proteins between cells,  T Cell Receptors recognizing foreign proteins via MCH Class I proteins, NK Cells recognizing few MCH class I proteins, Interferons and viruses, Antibodies and viruses

Submitted by person11d on Fri, 08/04/2017 - 23:10 · Permalink

I think an example of a complex adaptive system is the zombie apocalypse. The agents would be healthy people and those that are infected. The environment would represent an area, a city limit or area containing the population. The interactions between agents would result in a variety of potential outcomes; healthy agent becomes infected, healthy agent kills the infected, or infected agent could kill the healthy agent. 

Submitted by jstblue on Sun, 08/27/2017 - 14:20 · Permalink

I think an example of a complex adaptive system is waste management in schools.

The agents are the people and goods both perishable and non perishable. The environment is the school.  Some interactions between the agents and/ or the agents and the environment include, people who litter, people who recycle, people who use use too much through error in judgement or machine malfunction (wasted paper at copiers, toilet paper, etc.), who is responsible for maintenance and trash removal, etc.