Category Archives: Events

ICT challenges for GSS, part 2

Notes from The Friday ICT workshop (by Patrik Jansson, 2012-11-22)

The Friday ICT workshop started with a welcome by the chair, Patrik Jansson (Chalmers), presenting the workshop theme “Computer Science meets Global Systems Science” and the participants. After a brief round of presentations the two hour workshop slot was split into three rounds of presentation + discussion.

First out was Martin Elsman (HIPERFIT) talking about Domain Specific Languages in general and how computer science can help modellers handle risk modelling and predictions in particular. The examples given were about modelling complex financial contracts within one bank. In the discussion Ulf identified the challenge “simulate the global financial markets and different regulations”. (Several workshop participants could be part of a consortium around this topic.) Another challenge identified was to avoid the “tower of Babel” problem – making sure that the different DSLs and models have well defined semantics and share common infrastructure.

The second part was introduced by Zhangang Han (Beijing) talking about Human Machine Integrated Decision Making. (Picture: big command centre with a common large screen and many terminals. Could be used for a natural disasters command and control or for more long-term planning.) Lots of data as input, models are run, domain experts interpret it and help decision makers decide next actions. Challenge 1: find a compatible framework which can incorporate the workers in different roles so that they can communicate in an efficient way. Challenge 2: Challenge: real world data always contradict each other – what is the correct interpretation? Challenge 3: Visualise what is going on and map the data and interpretation to policies.

The discussion raised a few other points as well: When we present results to real decision makers we often get feedback which contradicts our results. Based on the assumption that the policy-maker really knows things we don’t we can sometimes adjust parameters to make these results coincide (but sometimes it is just confusing).

As a recent example Z. Han’s group modelled the education in Beijing, China where the number of pupils was going down and they need to merge (close down) some schools. We could then show some simulation and alternatives.

Patrik: we seem to need a whole infrastructure (or ecosystem) of raw data, analysed data at different levels, simulation results and interpretations. Perhaps new standards, data collection agencies, etc. are needed. Chris Barrett remarked that Data provenance – meta-data management schemes are important. Survey science, survey statistics have methods which should be adaptable here.

The third topic (education) was introduced by Johan Jeuring (Utrecht) with a presentation on “Technology for learning modelling languages”. Two examples were presented: an online mathematical problem solving tool and an automatic programming tutor, giving hints for next steps or checks of your own steps. Challenge 1: How do we set up generic systems for learning modelling languages (which can be specialised to many modelling languages). Challenge 2: How do we give feedback? Question: Should awareness/dissemination be done via Massive Online Courses? Challenge 3: How do we handle multiple natural languages? Merijn: learning is also a social experience – in an online interactive course the students interact both with the system and with their peers.

Friday ICT chairs + presenters

  • Patrik Jansson; Chalmers Univ. of Techn.,
    • Chair of “Computer Science meets GSS”
  • Martin Elsman; DIKU,
    • Talk: “Domain Specific Languages”
  • Zhangang Han; Beijing Normal Univ.,
    • Talk: Human Machine Integrated Decision Making
  • Johan Jeuring, Utrecht University and Open University, CS prof, DSL, teaching technology
    • Talk: Technology for Learning Modelling Languages
  • Colin Harrison; IBM’s Enterprise Initiatives Team
    • Plenary talk “Information Society and Energy Addiction”

Other Friday ICT workshop participants:

  • Chris Barrett, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
  • David de Roure, director of the eResearch center, Oxford, (digital social science)
  • Jeff Johnson, Open Univ., UK
  • John Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, PublicComputing BV, Computer engineer, work for small company, spec.
  • Jonathan Reades, UCL, London, large data sets
  • José Javier Ramasco, Mallorca, Complex networks
  • Katarzyna Szkuta, crossover, Tech4i2, ltd
  • Luis Bettencourt, Santa fe
  • Mario Rasetti, Institute of Scientific Interchange Foundation (ISI), Torino, emeritus, Physicist
  • Maxi San Miguel, CSIC, Mallorca, Spain, Physicist by training, com
  • Mereijn Terheggen, Factlink company, collective knowledge platform
  • Per Öster, CSC, Finland (Director of research environments, ICT tools for research)
  • Qian Ye, Beijing Normal University, Integrated risk governance
  • Steven Bishop, Math
  • Ulf Dahsten
  • Vittorio Loreto,
  • Wanglin Yan, Keio University, Tokyo, GIS, Sustainablility

First Open Global Systems Science Conference

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to the First Open Global Systems Science Conference, to be held in Brussels at the Stanhope Hotel, November 8 – 10th 2012. The aim of the Conference is to contribute to the development of Global Systems Science (GSS). The study of problems as diverse as global climate change and global financial crises is currently converging towards a new kind of research – Global Systems Science.

GSS could not emerge without substantial advances in information and communication technology (ICT). The use of computer models, digitized data, and global virtual networks are vital for GSS, and GSS can provide a key domain for socially useful ICT developments.

GSS builds on economics as well as on climatology, on history as well as on geography and on a variety of further disciplines. However, it is no attempt to renew the failed pursuit for a single unified science. It simply integrates insights and methods that are useful in studying global systems and develops them further for that purpose.
Important examples of global systems are:

  • the energy, water and food supply systems
  • the internet
  • the global financial system
  • the agents, resources and mechanisms involved in climate policy
  • the web of military forces and relations
  • globally spreading diseases
  • the scientific community

The conference is organized by the EU project Global Systems Dynamics and Policy (, a project coordinated by the Global Climate Forum (, and carried out by a team involving a transdisciplinary group of institutions based in Europe and other parts of the world.

GSS is one of those fields of inquiry where a separation between basic and applied science is misleading. The community of researchers engaged in GSS will evolve in a close dialogue with practitioners, policy-makers and other stakeholders. Therefore, – following the experience of previous successful GSDP meetings (Berlin 2011, Barcelona 2012) – this conference will bring together a unique cohort of researchers and practitioners relevant for GSS.

We look forward to meeting you in Brussels and to engage with you in this challenging and exciting conference.

On behalf of the GSDP steering committee,


Further Information: