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Towards Simplicity & Actual Realism


The last two months I spent very thoroughly developing a concept for economy (which I called the Activity Network), because it promised to achieve hyper-detail and infinite flexibility in the daily schedule and economic planning of households and companies, in a way that sounds very elegant on paper.

The descriptive power of the model and how it could simulate a wide range of city activities very accurately was clear from the beginning. Most of my time, however, I spent on the increasingly hopeless quest of figuring out how to grapple with the huge computational complexity that this approach entailed. I basically dug up and soaked in a whole field of research.

During this process I slipped into the mindset that I have to make this approach work, no matter what, or I would give up my ideals of detail and realism. I convinced myself that I am somehow heroically inventing something very new that will defy all computational realities.

Such thinking patterns are very dangerous! Better late than never, though, two days ago, I finally let go and allowed myself to come up with more diverse ideas.

I took the inspiration that some of you brought up of a simple needs-model akin to Prison Architect and started to play with his idea - and I soon realised that I only need...

Some very simple ingredients:

Time-varying needs for families and companies

A simple market of offers

A list of favourite/frequently used offers per resource for each family/company 

A simple policy of "fix the problem with the biggest payoff first"

To summarise how it compares to the old model:

Can produce all the same behaviour in citizens and companies

Matches intuitive behaviour & imperfect knowledge much closer

Pretty straightforward to implement

Computational complexity looks pretty low

Finally, here is what I did yesterday and today:

Let me know what you think! (Even if it is some form of "I told you!")

→ Discussion on /r/Citybound