Dynamic Knowledge Representation Using Agent-Based Modeling: Ontology Instantiation and Verification of Conceptual Models

Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 500)


The sheer volume of biomedical research threatens to overwhelm the capacity of individuals to effectively process this information. Adding to this challenge is the multiscale nature of both biological systems and the research community as a whole. Given this volume and rate of generation of biomedical information, the research community must develop methods for robust representation of knowledge in order for individuals, and the community as a whole, to “know what they know.” Despite increasing emphasis on “data-driven” research, the fact remains that researchers guide their research using intuitively constructed conceptual models derived from knowledge extracted from publications, knowledge that is generally qualitatively expressed using natural language. Agent-based modeling (ABM) is a computational modeling method that is suited to translating the knowledge expressed in biomedical texts into dynamic representations of the conceptual models generated by researchers. The hierarchical object-class orientation of ABM maps well to biomedical ontological structures, facilitating the translation of ontologies into instantiated models. Furthermore, ABM is suited to producing the nonintuitive behaviors that often “break” conceptual models. Verification in this context is focused at determining the plausibility of a particular conceptual model, and qualitative knowledge representation is often sufficient for this goal. Thus, utilized in this fashion, ABM can provide a powerful adjunct to other computational methods within the research process, as well as providing a metamodeling framework to enhance the evolution of biomedical ontologies.


Agent-based modeling Individual-based modeling Mathematical models Systems biology Computational biology Translational systems biology Translational research Knowledge representation Biomedical ontology Inflammation Complexity Complex systems Metamodels Model verification Computer simulation 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Trauma/Critical Care, Department of SurgeryNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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