InterJournal Complex Systems, 2022
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [2022]
Submission Date: 20080226
Multi-level behaviours in agent-based simulation: colonic crypt cell populations
Author(s): Chih-Chun Chen ,Sylvia Nagl ,Christopher Clack

Subject(s): CX.3

Category: Article


Agent-based modelling and simulation is now beginning to establish itself as a suitable technique for studying biological systems. However, a major issue in using agent-based simulations to study complex systems such as those in Systems Biology is the fact that simulations are `opaque'. While we have knowledge of individuals' behaviour through agent rules and have techniques for evaluating global behaviour by aggregating the states of individuals, methods for identifying the interactive mechanisms giving rise to this global behaviour are lacking. Formulating precise hypotheses about these multi-level behaviours is also difficult without an established formalism for describing them. The complex event formalism allows relationships between agent-rule-generated events to be defined so that behaviours at different levels of abstraction to be described. Complex event types define categories of these behaviours, which can then be detected in simulation, giving us computational method for distinguishing between alternative interactive mechanisms underlying a higher level behaviour. We apply the complex event formalism to an agent-based model of cell populations in the colonic crypt and demonstrate how competition and selection events can be identified in simulation at both the individual and clonal level, allowing us to computationally test hypotheses about the interactive mechanisms underlying a clone's success.

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