This web-book is a text book with exercises that together form the learning materials for “Spatial Simulation”, an elective module of the UNIGIS distance learning program in Geoinformatics at the University of Salzburg.

UNIGIS Distance Learning program

The web-book is published under an open licence. I welcome everybody to explore the contents and to work through the simulation modelling exercises. Only the related discussion forum and the assignments can exclusively be accessed by actively enrolled UNIGIS students, who signed up for this module.

About this web-book

Spatial simulation integrates the dimensions of space and time and thus explicitly represent process dynamics in its spatial context. This includes a wide range of application areas, such as transportation, hydrology, population ecology, healthcare, land-use change, wildfire prevention, etc. Depending on the nature of a specific spatio-temporal phenomenon, a multitude of methodological approaches have been developed. The wide range of model categories is confusing at the first sight: there are mathematical, numerical, analytic, probabilistic, stochastic, deterministic and individual-based models.

In the first part, this module provides a theory-based categorisation of models and the respective type of problems they can solve. You will gain the competence to identify the most adequate modelling approach for your research interest or problem domain. In the second part, there will be a specific focus on models that explicitly incorporate the spatial perspective in their structure: cellular automata and agent-based models.

For exercises and assignments, the open-source modelling framework ‘GAMA’ will be used. The programming language GAMA was explicitly designed for coding agent-based models. This modelling platform is particularly well suited to work with GIS data. It comes with a great wealth of model examples that are openly accessible and usable through GAMAs model library. From there, you will learn to use, modify and design your own models and how to use your own GIS data.

For me, it was a great experience to design and write this module. My own motivation to take this effort was rooted in the experience that I made, when I was a PhD fresher, desperately looking for a textbook that would help me getting an overview over a confusing abundance of spatially explicit modelling methods. I hope, this module helps to fill the gap.

One last request: This is a living document. I try to provide and maintain high-quality and up-to-date materials. Please report any issue that you may find to the UNIGIS issue tracker on GitHub (account needed) or drop me an email.

kind regards Gudrun Wallentin

This web-book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.