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What’s New?

Visit the website for the DTRA WMD project now underway.


IEEE Pervasive Computing has a special issue on “Smart Cities.” According to Dr. Crooks’ description, “The articles and departments in the special issue highlight the coming revolution in urban data via some of the different approaches researchers are taking to build tools and applications to better inform decision-making (to reduce energy consumption or improve visitor flows, for example).” Be sure to check out this issue (links to many articles) and then take time to explore the entire GIS and Agent-Based Model site designed by Andrew Crooks.

Dr. Claudio Cioffi, director of the Center for Social Complexity, has been invited to the Summit on Social and Behavioral Sciences for National Security, held at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, under the sponsorship of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and to review its public report forthcoming in February.

Dr. Cioffi has also been elected to the newly established University Research Advisory Committee (URAC), which will advise the Mason administration on research issues and policies at the university level.

Dr. William Kennedy spearheads grant from DTRA enabling modeling of possible response to nuclear event.

Mason’s Center for Social Complexity has been awarded a $462,094 grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for a project entitled “A Framework for Modeling the Population’s Response to a Nuclear WMD Event.” This project, which explores a population’s response in the first hours, days, and weeks following a nuclear WMD event, is under the direction of William G. Kennedy (Principal Investigator/PI, Mason Center for Social Complexity; computational social scientist) and Andrew T. Crooks (Mason Center for Social Complexity and Mason’s Department of Computational and Data Sciences, College of Science; computational social scientist). The Center for Social Complexity, a unit in Mason’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, will provide core facilities and administrative support in coordination with the Office of Sponsored Programs and College of Science.

The objective of this research is to advance our understanding of the behavioral and social effects of a nuclear weapon of mass destruction (WMD) event on population dynamics. While the physical effects of such an event have been studied, the social effects are not well understood. Such effects may include complex cascading behaviors between and among the myriad of social systems and networks that have been too complex to easily describe using traditional methods. The model will show how an affected population might react to a WMD event in the first 30 days, including both in the short term (e.g., evacuation) and longer term (e.g., finding water, food, and shelters, and migrating), but will not address recovery.

The DTRA Program Officer for this project will be Paul S. Tandy, PhD.

Contact for Additional Information:
William G. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Center for Social Complexity, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study
George Mason University, Research Hall, Room 380, MSN 6B2
4400 University Drive, Fairfax VA 22030 USA
Tel. (703) 993–1402; (703) 993-9291
E-mail: Bill Kennedy


Center for Social Complexity awarded a two-year contract for $264,678 from the Logistics Management Institute (LMI) for NASA project.

Technological advances in autonomous systems, such as smaller sensors, faster processors, and greater networking capability, have created an explosion of new consumer and commercial products and services. Unfortunately, our ability to clearly specify, effectively design, and then manage these advanced autonomous systems has not always kept pace with the development of the systems themselves.

The goal of the research is to create new language and visualization methods that will create a coherent and shared framework for the specification, design, development, management, and use of what are to a large degree unregulated systems. We will augment existing tools that can test and evaluate mechanical and basic software systems, and will propose a post-research, pre-development environment where we suggest that new approaches are in order, new terminology may be necessary, and new ways to communicate about and on behalf of the new autonomous technology is vital.

William G. Kennedy, Mason Center for Social Complexity, is the Principal Investigator (PI). The LMI program manager for this project is Brant Horio and the NASA Program Officer is Yuri Gawdiak, who is the Associate Director of the Airspace Operations and Safety Program at NASA headquarters.

The project will last one year with one additional year optional.


Dr. Crooks Contributes to Encyclopedia of Geography.

Dr. Andrew Crooks was invited to write an entry on “Cellular Automata” for the recently released “The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology.” Below is the abstract to my chapter, along some of the images I used in my discussion, the full reference to the chapter.

Cellular Automata (CA) are a class of models where one can explore how local actions generate global patterns through well specified rules. In such models, decisions are made locally by each cell which are often arranged on a regular lattice and the patterns that emerge, be it urban growth or deforestation are not coordinated centrally but arise from the bottom up. Such patterns emerge through the cell changing its state based on specific transition rules and the states of their surrounding cells. This entry reviews the principles of CA models, provides a background on how CA models have developed, explores a range of applications of where they have been used within the geographical sciences, prior to concluding with future directions for CA modeling.

Click here for access to encyclopedia entry.