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Forest Fires

This short unit about the spreading of forest fires is intended to teach some of the basics of using a simple pre-made model/simulation. While there are many benefits to using this model, the ability to physically verify the results proves to be difficult. It turns out that the rudimentary simulation of a wild fire spreading through a forest of varying densities can be implemented in a wide range of tools including NetLogo, AgentSheets, Vensim, Excel, and possibly others. Thus, this single model can teach the basics of simulation techniques like agent modeling, cellular automata, and systems dynamics without requiring students to relearn or rediscover what results to expect and allows them to focus on the methods and the techniques.

Background Readings

Which of this reading is more appropriate for students, or more appropriate for the teacher(s)? Some of this seems to be a little dense for student reading.

WildFire Modeling (wikipedia)

Agent-based modeling and simulation of wildland fire suppression

Cellular Automata (wikipedia)

History of Cellular Automata

Lecture Notes

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Even if this is a one week unit, it's still missing a lecture.

CRS Questions

  1. A technique called "systematic dynamical conflagration"
  2. Going out back campus and ....
  3. Coding all the properties of wood into a program
  4. A technique called "cellular automata"
  1. Automated Telecomune
  2. Tessellation Automata
  3. Biological Automated Simulation
  4. Systems Dynamics
  1. Stephen Wolfram
  2. John von Neumann
  3. Alan Turing
  4. Stanislaw Ulam


It would be nice to get some ideas for this unit on this front. Some ideas of what sort of lab you could run, and how you could implement that lab would be great.


Will this be a 1 week or 2 week unit? What sort of dependencies are there?

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