Seminar 1 - GIS and Geocomputation
The purpose of this seminar is to delve a little deeper into what 'simulation' and
'geocomputation' are, and to highlight the main differences between typical geocomputation
and GIS approaches to exploring the world.
Before this seminar, there are two readings. To begin with, read the
first half of Chapter 2
(pages 15-20, up to the 'Building the Model' section) in:
Gilbert, Nigel and Klaus G. Troitzsch (2005)
Simulation for the Social Scientist. Open University Press
This chapter is avaiilable on the VLE
here. Note: depending on your browser you will probably need to log in to the VLE
before clicking on the link.
As you read the chapter, think about, and take notes on:
- What models of systems have you already produced in this course,
- Gilbert and Troitzsch say that, when creating a model of a model of a target system,
"we hope that conclusions drawn about the model will also apply to the target because
the two are sufficiently similar" (p 15) . When you have created models in the past, how
have you verified that the two are sufficiently similar?
- The authors note that because social systems are dynamic, models should be dynamic
as well (p 15). What do they mean by dynamic in this context? Are you familiar
with any dynamic models?
- How do analytical methods differ to using simulation as a means of
understanding how a model develops over time?
- What do the authors mean by "explanatory" and "predictive" models?
- What are the stages of simulation-based research (p 18). How do these compare to the
non-simulation (e.g. GIS) research that you are accustomed with?
- How is the 14th centruary principle of Occam's razor relevant to the design of
computer models today? (Hint - see 'Designing a Model' on page 19).
After reading Gilbert and Troitzsch, read the following single-page opinion piece
Epstein, J.M., (2009) Modelling to contain pandemics. Nature 460, 687-687.
This is also available on the
VLE. While reading the paper, think about the approach that Epstein has taken to
modelling disease transmission, and the approach that you might have taken using a GIS.