MODSIM Conference, Day 1

I am attending the MODSIM International Congress on Modelling and Simulation in Hobart, Tasmania. It promises to be another great event.

I spoke today on “Sampling bias and implicit knowledge in ecological niche modelling.” Out of the many interesting talks I listened to, one that stands out is “The Waroona fire: extreme fire behaviour and simulations with a coupled fire-atmosphere model” by Mika Peace. It introduced me to “pyrocumulonimbus clouds,” and some of the complex weather–fire interactions in severe bushfires. This is certainly a phenomenon that needs to be better understood.

MODSIM Day 1: Honeybee Colony Collapse

The MODSIM 2015 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation opened today with a plenary talk by Mary Myerscough on honeybee colony collapse disorder. The talk was based on work published in PLOS ONE and in PNAS.

Mathematical modelling strongly suggests that the problem is caused by the death of foraging bees. The colony reacts by drafting younger hive bees into the foraging role. This strategy works well as a response to short-term problems but, since younger bees are less effective foragers, it sets up a positive feedback loop which can cause colony collapse. What is worse, the signs of impending collapse are subtle, being reflected only in the number of adult bees.

This interesting talk also provided a wonderful answer to the perennial question “how is mathematics useful?” The mathematics was accessible to anyone who could understand differential equations, and the problem was accessible to anyone at all. And, because of their role as pollinators, bees are very, very important.

MODSIM 2013 Day 6 (Friday)

The 20th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2013) in Adelaide is finishing up today. There will be a busy morning programme, and after lunch the MODSIM Student Prizes will be announced.

It’s been a great event, and we will get the opportunity to repeat it in two years time – at MODSIM2015 in Queensland!

Statistics for MODSIM2013: 514 full papers, 290 abstract-only talks (804 total talks), 809 delegates, 32 countries represented.

Farewell South Australia – the S.A. floral emblem

MODSIM 2013 Day 5 (Thursday)

MODSIM2013 is continuing in Adelaide. Jerzy Filar (Flinders University) and Russell Glenn (Australian National University) will be giving plenary presentations, and there will be over 200 other talks today.

The first plenary, entitled “The power and limitations of mathematical models and Plato’s Cave Parable,” sounds particularly intriguing, given my interest in Plato and Platonism.

Plato’s Cave (Michiel Coxie, 16th century)

In the afternoon, I will be chairing a session on Homeland Security and Emergency Management applications of modelling and simulation, which includes six presentations:

The conference dinner will also be held today. That will be fun!

The Torrens River, near the conference venue

MODSIM 2013 Day 3 (Tuesday)

MODSIM2013 is continuing in Adelaide. I will be presenting my own talks today (“Self-synchronisation in C2 networks” and “Network centrality and super-spreaders in infectious disease epidemiology”) as well as attending many of the interesting presentations on the schedule. Paul Whitehead (Oxford) and Hedwig van Delden (RIKS, the Netherlands) will be giving plenary talks.

I guess that going to the beach will have to wait for the weekend…

Glenelg beach, Adelaide (photo taken while attending a different conference)

MODSIM 2013 Day 2 Highlights

The second day of MODSIM2013 was packed with interesting talks. Above, Alex Smajgl from CSIRO explains how models can be used to challenge beliefs and “bust myths.”

Below is a slide from Hazel Parry (CSIRO) discussing the movement of Australian flying foxes (bats):

There were many other highlights which I simply do not have the time to list here.