Causality and Consistency of State Update Schemes in Synchronous Agent-based Simulations

Tan, Wen Jun and Andelfinger, Philipp and Eckhoff, David and Cai, Wentong and Knoll, Alois (2021) Causality and Consistency of State Update Schemes in Synchronous Agent-based Simulations. In: 2021 ACM SIGSIM Conference on Principles of Advanced Discrete Simulation, 31 May - 02 June, Suffolk, Virginia, USA. Proceedings, published by Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), New York, NY, USA, pp. 57-68.

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In an agent-based simulation (ABS), a state update scheme carries out the transitions of agents from one state to the next. To produce correct simulation results, the update scheme must respect the cause-and-effect relationships defined by the agent-based model and ensure that the resulting overall simulation state is internally consistent. At the same time, the update scheme should be efficient enough to meet a simulationist's demand for timely results. Considering the common class of synchronous time-driven ABS, a number of update schemes have been employed in the literature and simulation frameworks. In this paper, various implementations of update schemes are analyzed and contrasted with respect to their ability to maintain the simulation correctness as well as their performance characteristics. A semantic model is formulated to define the reference behavior of synchronous time-driven ABS updates and model the dependencies among agent updates using a state access graph. Relying on the formalization, conditions under which different update schemes achieve causality are shown. Further, resolution methods are categorized according to their coordination mechanisms to achieve consistency by resolving conflicts among agent state updates. Through two case studies, the empirical performance of different update schemes and resolution methods are evaluated. For sequential execution, an update scheme based on the agent's dependencies achieves the highest performance, whereas in the parallel case, the choice of update scheme involves a tradeoff between execution time and memory usage. If deterministic simulation output is required, decentralized coordination generally outperforms centralized coordination. The results can assist implementers and researchers in their selection of appropriate methods in the design and implementation of agent-based simulators.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Projects: MoSiLLDe