Computer scientist to explain use of simulations in exploring ecological questions

Evolution is slow, so scientists studying its long-term processes find it helpful to speed it up. That’s where UWindsor computer science professor Robin Gras comes in.

His generic simulation platform, called EcoSim, can manage several hundred thousand agents simultaneously in an artificial world, allowing researchers to examine broad ecological questions—including evolution, speciation, extinctions and invasive species.

EcoSim generates vast amounts of data representing all the information about the world, every species and individual (including mental states) at every moment. Such detail gives the program great advantage over real data gathering, which is limited by the large spatial and temporal scales involved.

In a simulation, more than a billion agents can be born, and thousands of species can emerge and become extinct. This novel approach of ecosystem simulation is a promising area of research and almost unique in the world. 

Dr. Gras is an associate professor of computer science and Canada Research Chair in Learning and Simulation for Theoretical Biology Science. He will discuss this work at the Science Café at Canada South Science City, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 17. The free public event is part of a series sponsored by the Faculty of Science to offer discussion of important science research for the general public.

Canada South Science City is located at 930 Marion Avenue.

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