Massively Multi-Agent Systems (MMAS)

A Distributed Platform for Global-Scale Agent-Based Models of Disease Transmission. Jon Parker, Joshua M. Epstein.

the optimal distribution strategy may be problem-dependent, but you can usually do well using either a round-robin or random allocation scheme.

you can also implement dynamic load balancing (e.g. moving MB from one node to another) but there is a very high overhead. Random or round-robin allocation can help avoid dramatic load imbalances.

not all agents are simulated - only active ones are.

Consider this analogy: a row of 6 billion contiguous dominoes is given. Some domino (the index case) is toppled, and a contagion of falling dominoes ensues. You wish to simulate the progress of this wave. It would be absurd to loop through the entire list of all 6 billion dominoes at every simulated time-step. Each trip through the list would examine billions of dominoes when only a handful are changing state at any one time. It is far more efficient to maintain a list of active (i.e., falling) dominoes and operate only on this set. Proper implementation of this active set modeling scheme requires that each domino correctly determine which dominoes it will effect when active. This allows active dominoes to promote other dominoes to the active set at the appropriate time. Predictably, when a domino completes its fall it will remove itself from the active set.

each ModelBlock maintains a priority queue where events are placed (e.g. events where an agent does something, or something happens to an agent, etc). It goes through this queue, executing events as they come.

Agent Based Modeling, Large Scale Simulations. Hazel R. Parry.

Element Least complex -> Most complex
Spatial structure Aspatial or lattice of sells (1d, 2d, or 3d+) Continuous space
Internal state Simple representation (boolean true or false) Complex representation (many states from an enumerable set) or fuzzy variable values
Agent heterogeneity No Yes
Interactions Local and fixed (w/in a neighborhood) Multiple different ranges and stochastic
Synchrony of model updates Synchronous update (e.g. time steps) Not synchronous: asynchrony due to state-transition rules or b/c event-driven

Also, agents may also interact with the environment (in addition to each other).

Data may be mapped to different nodes in a few ways:

The right way depends on the application and it can greatly help with load balancing.

Since computational demands may change over time during the simulation (perhaps some agents become more active, for exaple), so dynamic load balancing can help.

One method is Adaptive Actor Architecture, where agents are redistributed as nodes become overloaded according to their communication patterns (moved to be closer to agents they communicate with frequently). This introduces additional overhead so should only be applied where a lot of communication is going on between particular agents.

Asynchronous updating may be tricky because some nodes may block other nodes, we need to ensure that messages are received in the right order.

A deadlock is when two or more processes are waiting for communication from one of the other processes. This halts the entire simulation.

One way to avoid this is to use non-blocking message passing, i.e. work on a node continues even if the message hasn't transmitted yet.

Time Management in High Level Architecture. Richard M. Fujimoto.

Different kinds of time:

A challenge in "federated simulation" (simulation with multiple nodes) is keeping events synchronized across nodes, i.e. such that they are all executed/interpreted in the correct order.

The best way to do this depends on how time works in the simulation:

With timestamp order, a node must be guaranteed that it will receive no more messages containing an earlier timestamp, so that it knows it can go ahead processing the queued events without needing to rollback. Alternatively, you can use optimistic event processing which processes messages in timestamp order without guarantee there are no earlier timestamped messages pending, but has some means of recovering if there is some conflict (i.e. rollback). A rollback can get complicated, as it may require the node that is rolling back to recall events it has already sent out, which may trigger further rollbacks on other nodes, etc (this is called the Time Warp method).

Simultaneous events (i.e. those with identical timestamps) can be executed in an arbitrary order or according to some tie-breaking field in the event.

Time step simulations are easier because they can pause between timestamps to wait for all pending events to be sent to their destinations.