Observer Tools

To test whether an IBM's implementation is correct and to understand how system-level dynamics emerge from the individual's interactions, specific observation tools are needed. These tools include graphical displays of patterns over space and time and the option to execute the model step by step and watch how state variables change. Some software platforms for IBMs like Swarm, Repast, or NetLogo provide so-called probes: on a graphical interface single individuals can be selected and their state variables displayed and manipulated (Figure 2). Further observation tools are graphical and file output of summary statistics, for example, average abundance, point-pattern characteristics of the individual's spatial distribution, or time series characteristics. Observation tools are not part of the model itself, but their appropriate choice determines what we can learn from an IBM.

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