4.3.2 Places

Note: This is an excerpt from a draft of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. The introduction and table of contents are also available

4.3.2 Places

Places will be considered first. Places correspond to geographical entities, so a place must have neighbors. Therefore neighbors is an attribute of places that is a list of at least zero other places. The minimum bound is zero because the least number of places than can logically exist in this model is one, and there is no logical upper bound. When modeling the real world, a list of neighbors is best determined by reading a map and seeing how places border each other. These neighbors have to be identified, so the second attribute of places is an identifier which is unique for every place. (For the rest of this document “unique identifier” will be written “UID.”)
This model is not strictly a demographic one, but in any political model elementary facts about locations have to be taken into account. The objective information that falls into this category is population, wealth, and population density. Information on population and population density (which is population divided by land area) is readily available.

Other objective information is needed as well, but takes some more justification. Because a goal of this model is to demonstrate how political change is actually the result of national behavior, the relation of a place with states (political entities) has to be tracked. This can be accomplished by giving places a state attribute. That is, there will be an entry for every state to which a place belongs. For example, assuming one was modeling behavior in North America, the place around Sioux Falls would have its state attributes set to both “South Dakota” and “The United States of America,” In this way the evolution of the world can be observed as strictly involving places and states, even though nations are the real drivers.

Likewise, information on rates of change have to be maintained. Specifically trends for population and wealth are vital for an historical understanding of a situation. This information should not be just the rate of change itself, but the acceleration as well. To reference an old joke, the difference between being 50 meters high in an elevator descending at 1 meter per second with no acceleration and being 50 meter high while falling down at 1 meter per second accelerating at 8.2 meters per second per second is literally the difference between life and death. This information will have to be derived from historical values of the wealth of a place, but the method will be straight forward. The rate of change should be the difference in the values between the two most recent periods (e.g. every year) while the rate of rate of change should be a moving average. This allows for short term affects to be represented by the rate of change while allowing for longer term trends to be represented by the rate of rate of change and to continuously guide the development of a place.

Subjective or complex information also needs to be tracked. Specifically, for this model to work assertiveness, aggressiveness, health, and magnitude must be measured. This is not to say that the model cannot be further extended and made more precise by capturing finer grained information. Rather, these four fiends are the bare minimum needed in order to get meaningful results. (See page 32 for more information on these fields.)

Assertiveness, aggressiveness, and health all affect the analog attributes of the NPs for a particular place, and so indirectly affect entire nations. As they relate to a place itself, these values are most important in determining what and how nations thrive. First, nations whose analog attributes are similar to these three will find themselves immediately well fit. This is the view that people typically associate with the national development in a place. No one would expect a highly assertive growing nation to exist in a place where the people are collectively unassertive and in decline.

The magnitude attribute behaves quite differently. It changes the goals of nations and how the weighted averages are calculated. This attribute is needed because merely materialistic models are unlikely to give a correct answer. Nations can be unduly desirous of otherwise worthless possessions. In the early twentieth century, Prussia (now mostly in northern Poland) substantially affected Germany’s war-aims and self-image. It has been seriously suggested that the German government’s refusal to even temporarily withdrawal from any Prussia in 1914 cost the Empire the war. Only a myopic model would conclude that this was because of lobbying by the agricultural sector of the economy. Instead, the attribute of magnitude gives the model a neat way of explaining both irredentism and “heartlands” or “ancestral homelands.” However, it should be noted that as some area might be universally important others might be important to only one or a few nations.

A final attribute is “name,” which plays no part in the calculations. The only purpose of this attribute is to make the model easier to understand for humans. Instead of referring to some place by its UID, it can be given a name in the native language of the person running the simulation. The name cannot be a UID because it may not be unique, for instance, there are many “Sierra Nevadas” in the world, but it can assist in interpreting output.

Visually, the places entity type can be visualized as follows

Entity 1 (Places)

  • UID
  • Name
  • Density
  • Population
  • Wealth
  • dPopulation
  • dWealth
  • ddPopulation
  • ddWealth
  • Neighbors
  • Assertiveness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Health
  • Magnitude

Figure 7. Places Entity

Computer Science Thesis Index

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