Explaining Swarm Design Concepts using an Interactive, vBottom-up Simulation Tool
When promoting emergent behavior as a viable problem-solving option to a community unfamiliar with the concept but nevertheless key stakeholders in the effort, swarm researchers can find themselves making rudimentary analogies to social insects that provide some familiarity, but offers nothing in the way of real understanding. Yet, if these stakeholders are to adopt such a seemingly radical approach, they need to be somewhat conversant with the concepts, the obstacles and the process of an emergent system. We have built an Emergent Behavior Simulation Tool (EBST) to make issues of emergent systems and bottom-up design quickly accessible to interested neophytes. The contextual scenarios are built by swarm researchers, but provide an interface accessible to all. The tool provides an environment in which the consequences of agent based actions can be observed at the global level, and then quickly changed based on observations. Yet the scenarios are specific, and goal-oriented, so that the swarm-layperson is not left to fend for themselves in a sea of syntax, and open-ended possibilities. The tool is the centerpiece of an online course being developed for military students at the US Naval Postgraduate School.
KeywordsEmergent System Naval Postgraduate School Radio Button Swarm Behavior Contextual Scenario
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