Computational Perspectives III

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A Randomly Connected System

Note: in order to run the simulation referred to in this slide, go here, to the Java Applet version. You will be directed to download the latest version of the Java plug-in.

Several different interpretations may be applied to the simulation on your left. Its 25 circles could be viewed as a group of people subjected to an infectious disease, a set of procedural or data-like units within a computer program, or a collection of independent groups or people within an organization.

The agent initially shown as a large red circle is the independent unit that carries the original "defect" - be it an informational inconsistency within a program or an organization, or a disease outbreak in a large city. At every time period, she transmits some of that defect to each of her partners. Thus, a virus infects another city neighborhood, and parts of an organization adjacent to the problematic unit show growing inconsistencies that have to be resolved.

During every time period, a given amount of resources is devoted to rooting out the problem. Random agents are picked out, and fixed one after the other, until either all are healthy, or the resources are depleted. Then a new cycle of infection starts, and the surviving defect spreads through the population.

Clicking "Go" will run the simulation over 100 time steps. In a small percentage of cases, the defect will be quickly contained. Most of the time, however, it will spread throughout the network. Note that half the connections are completely random, added on top of the initial 24 links needed to ensure that the graph is connected.

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