Ph.D. Thesis Defence - Department of Computer Science - Michelangelo Diamanti

Title: Agora: Unified Framework for Crowd Simulation Research”

  • 26.5.2023, 10:00 - 11:00

Michelangelo Diamanti will defend his Ph.D. thesis on “Agora: Unified Framework for Crowd Simulation Research”

Abstract: “Crowd simulation focuses on modeling the movements and behaviors of large groups of people. This area of study has become increasingly important because of its several applications in various fields such as urban planning, safety, and entertainment. In each of these domains, the presence of virtual agents exhibiting realistic behavior greatly enhances the quality of the simulations. However, the inherently multifaceted and intricate nature of human behavior presents a unique challenge, necessitating the effective combination of multiple behavior models. This thesis introduces a novel theoretical framework for modeling human behavior in crowd simulations, addressing the unresolved issue of combining a plethora of behavior models, often developed in isolation. The proposed framework decomposes human behavior into fundamental driving stimuli, which are then represented graphically through the heatmap paradigm. Subsequently, the agent behavior is influenced by the heatmaps, which guide them toward attractive areas and steer them away from repulsive locations based on the encoded stimuli. A key advantage of this approach lies in the ability to combine heatmaps using well-defined color operations, effectively integrating different aspects of human behavior. Furthermore, the heatmap paradigm facilitates objective comparison of simulation output with real-world data, employing image similarity metrics to evaluate model accuracy. To realize this framework, the thesis presents a modular software architecture designed to support various tasks involved in crowd simulation, emphasizing the separation of concerns for each task. This architecture comprises a collection of abstract modules, which are subsequently implemented using appropriate software components to realize the underlying features, resulting in the Agora framework. To assess the ability of Agora to support the various tasks involved in crowd simulation, two case studies are implemented and analyzed. The first case study simulates tourists visiting Þingvellir national park in Iceland, examining how their behavior is influenced by the visibility of the surrounding environment. The second case study employs Agora to model the thermal and density comfort levels of virtual pedestrians in an urban setting. The results demonstrate that Agora successfully supports the development, combination, and evaluation of crowd simulation models against real-world data. The authoring process, assisted by Agora, is significantly more streamlined compared to its native counterpart. The integration of multiple models is achieved by combining the heatmaps, resulting in plausible behavior, and the model assessment is made convenient through the evaluator within the framework. The thesis concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for the field of crowd simulation, highlighting the contributions and potential future directions of the Agora framework.”


  • Supervisor: Hannes Högni Vilhjálmsson, Supervisor, Reykjavík University
    • Yngvi Björnsson, Reykjavík University
    • Christopher Peters (KTH, Sweden)
  • External examiner:  Nuria Pelechano (UPC, Spain)

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