Heuristic-based modeling of group dynamics

Mehdi Moussaid, Dirk Helbing and Guy Theraulaz (20102) have developed a computer program that models crowd behaviour in different simulated scenarios better than other computer programs. They had done so by programing the simulating 'agents' with just two rules resembling cognitive heuristics that humans use in similar scenarios: keep a safe distance from others and move through gaps between people (Mosher, 20101).

This computer model may be a useful tool for architects to model more efficient and safer public spaces. For example, it would help visualize designs that produce inefficient pedestrian pattern movements in normal situations or unsafe bottlenecks in high risk crowd situations such as when people are running away from danger.

1. MOSHER Dave (2010). What causes deadly 'crowd-quakes'? ScienceNOW, 22 April 2011. ISSN 1947-8062. Retrieved from ScienceNOW on 24 April 2011.
2. MOUSSAID Mehdi, Dirk HELBING & Guy THERAULAZ (2010). How simple rules determine pedestrian behavior and crowd disasters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 April 2011. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016507108.

Want to know more?

Moussaid et al's original article
Here you can access the original paper by Moussaid and colleagues (2010).
ScienceNOW - Commentary by Mosher
In this ScienceNOW page you can read the commentary by Mosher, as well as watch two simulations: a normal pedestrian dynamics pattern in normal situations and a crowd dynamics pattern in high-risk situations.

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