Complex systems are collections of independent agents interacting with each other and with their environment to produce emergent behaviour. Agent-based computer simulation is one of the main ways of studying complex systems. A naive approach to such simulation can fare poorly, due to large communication overhead, and due to the scope for deadlock between the interacting agents sharing a computational platform. Agent interaction can instead be considered entirely from the point of view of the environment(s) within which the agents interact. Structuring a simulation using such Environment Orientation leads to a simulation that reduces communication overhead, that is effectively deadlock-free, and yet still behaves in the manner required. Additionally the Environment Orientation architecture eases the development of more sophisticated large-scale simulations, with multiple kinds of complex agents, situated in and interacting with multiple kinds of environments. We describe the Environment Orientation simulation architecture. We report on a number of experiments that demonstrate the effectiveness of the Environment Orientation approach: a simple flocking system, a flocking system with multiple sensory environments, and a flocking system in an external environment.
@article(Hoverd-Stepney-EnvOr-2015, author = "Tim Hoverd and Susan Stepney", title = "Environment Orientation: a structured simulation approach for agent-based complex system", journal = "Natural Computing", volume = 14, number = 1, pages = "83-97", doi = "10.1007/s11047-014-9449-2", year = 2015 )