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WNIJ and NIU STEAM are partnering to create “The Sound of Science,” a weekly series explaining important science, technology, engineering and math concepts using sound. The feature will air at 1:04 p.m. Fridays as a lead-in to Science Friday.The Sound of Science is made possible by Ken Spears Construction

The Sound of Science - 'Agent-based Modeling'

NIU STEAM
NIU STEAM

The Sound of Science - 'Agent-based Modeling'

Jeremy - This is Jeremy Benson with NIU STEAM, and we're here for another episode of The Sound of Science on WNIJ. Today, we have Dr. Sachit Butail with us who's going to tell us a little bit about agent-based modeling. The world changing system that you've probably never heard of. Welcome Dr. Butail, so what is agent-based modeling?

Dr. Butail - Thank you Jeremy, so agent-based modeling or ABM for short is a mathematical approach for recreating situations that involve a large number of interacting biological systems. Examples of such biological systems would be a flock of birds, school of fish or as in our case that we're doing currently in our lab, a small US town of humans. Each bird, fish or a human in this case is represented by an agent, and this agent lives and interacts with other agents in a simulation.

Jeremy - That sounds very interesting and very complicated. So, what are some ways that we use this type of modeling?

Dr. Butail - So ABM’s have been used in the past to investigate hypotheses about humans. For example, how individuals in a crowd lead up to a bottleneck when they're evacuating an emergency, or form lanes when two crowds of humans come together. For infectious diseases such as COVID-19, ABMS are indispensable. They can be used to simulate hypothetical scenarios that are otherwise impractical to recreate. For example, to understand the effect of interactions on the spread of the disease and develop strategies for effective vaccine distribution.

Jeremy - That is amazing. So, this is a very broad topic with a lot of different information to it. So, we're actually going to come back and we're going to have Dr. Butail with us for the next two episodes. Be sure and join us again next week where we're going to talk a little more about how we use this research in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been The Sound of Science on WNIJ, where you learn something new every day.

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