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An interesting use of agent-based modeling

The following paragraph talks about TRANSIMS, an interesting application of agent-based simulation technology:

A team from LANL's Technology and Safety Assessment Division has developed a traffic simulation software package to create products that can be deployed to metropolitan planning agencies nationwide. The TRansportation ANalysis SIMulation System (TRANSIMS) ABM package provides planners with a synthetic population's daily activity patterns (such as travel to work, shop, and recreation, etc.), simulates the movements of individual vehicles on a regional transportation network, and estimates air pollution emissions generated by vehicle movements. Travel information is derived from actual census and survey data for specific tracts in target cities, providing a more accurate sense of the movements and daily routines of real people as they negotiate a full day with various transportation options available to them. TRANSIMS is based on (and contributes to the further development of) advanced computer simulation codes developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for military applications. TRANSIMS models create a virtual metropolitan region with a complete representation of the region's individuals, their activities, and the transportation infrastructure. Trips are planned to satisfy the individuals' activity patterns. TRANSIMS then simulates the movement of individuals across the transportation network, including their use of vehicles such as cars or buses, on a second-by-second basis. This virtual world of travelers mimics the traveling and driving behavior of real people in the region. The interactions of individual vehicles produce realistic traffic dynamics from which analysts using TRANSIMS can estimate vehicle emissions and judge the overall performance of the transportation system. Previous transportation planning surveyed people about elements of their trips such as origins, destinations, routes, timing, and forms of transportation used, or modes. TRANSIMS starts with data about people's activities and the trips they take to carry out those activities, then builds a model of household and activity demand. The model forecasts how changes in transportation policy or infrastructure might affect those activities and trips. TRANSIMS tries to capture every important interaction between travel subsystems, such as an individual's activity plans and congestion on the transportation system. For instance, when a trip takes too long, people find other routes, change from car to bus or vice versa, leave at different times, or decide not to engage in a certain activity at a given location. Also, because TRANSIMS tracks individual travelers – locations, routes, modes taken, and how well their travel plans are executed – it can evaluate transportation alternatives and reliability to determine who might benefit and who might be adversely affected by transportation changes.

Quote from http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/99/suppl_3/7280