Research Group “Spatial Simulation” @Z_GIS

Explaining patterns from behaviour

Living systems are complex. This is true for human social systems as well as for ecological systems: many different and smart individuals interact and adapt to each other and to their environment. Simulation models such as agent-based models or cellular automata go beyond describing and analysing patterns, but aim at exploring and understanding the underlying processes.


The research group “Spatial Simulation” uses simulation models as ‘virtual labs’ to explore how spatial patterns emerge from the behaviour and the local interaction of individuals. By comparing model outcomes to the real-world we can test and refine our current understanding of system behaviour.

Application Areas

Researchers in the “Spatial Simulation” group have their backgrounds in geoinformatics, ecology, geography, and computer science. We thus aim to understand the emergence of spatial patterns in a range of different domains, including animal movement, bicycle mobility, epidemiology, tourism and hydrology. Scenario-based research allows us to experiment in and with these systems, which would be too expensive, unethical or plainly impossible in the real system.