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Wouter Vermeer: The impact of the propagation mechanism on system wide dynamics

Wouter Vermeer, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
02/07/2017

Often systems exhibit behavior which is difficult to predict and steer, as interactions on the micro level (between actors within the system) results in propagation of behavior which can cause unforeseen dynamics. Understanding the effects of propagation is crucial in order to understand how the state and behavior of a system will change and what the effect of interventions will be. The structure of interactions, the network structure, has been identified in literature as a prime driver of propagation. By focusing on the network structure, however, the impact of the mechanism by which propagation takes place has been pushed to the background. In this presentation I argue that the mechanism plays a crucial role in determining how propagation dynamics scale, and is thus critical when effectively intervening in a system. While various mechanisms exist in literature there is little coherence and overlap in their use, therefore I put forward a generic Agent-Based framework which allows for capturing the propagation mechanism in more detail and in a structured way. I show that using such a framework not only results in a more detailed and methodologically stronger model of propagation, but also that it is a prerequisite for effective interventions into propagation.