I just returned from an interesting talk in the Mathematical Institute by Hannah Fry from UCL’s CASA centre. There was lots of heavy mathematics and some interesting applications. I especially liked the model of the London riots in 2011. It combined nicely a contagion model (SIR where ‘I’ means become a rioter and ‘R’ means being arrested), a retail model (where shoppers trade-off distance to travel with size of retail outlets), and Epstein’s civil disobedience model where the probability of being arrested depends upon the ratio of police to rioters. They even did some participatory modelling where a model of riots breaking out in London was displayed on a table and the police moved toy police cars and vans around in response. There was a Kinect camera above the table that updated the model as the toys were moved around.

During cake after the talk Hannah, Chris Farmer, and I had an interesting discussion of the relationship between ABM, model output, discrete mathematics, and continuous mathematics.

What did they do with the Kinect?

Paper is accessible from here: http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130221/srep01303/full/srep01303.html

I found this photo of the table top simulation game:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uclnews/6972075692/in/set-72157629540406396

And found this blog (http://blogs.casa.ucl.ac.uk/author/richard/) that says

… the riots table which uses another Kinect camera to sense Lego Police cars on the surface of the table. A model of the London riots runs on the computer and displays a map on the table which players use the Police cars to control.