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Gary Polhill

Staff picture: Gary Polhill
Information and Computational Sciences
Information and Computational Sciences
Human-Natural Systems Research Scientist
gary.polhill@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

Gary Polhill did a degree in Artificial Intelligence and a PhD in Neural Networks before spending 18 months in industry as a professional programmer. Since 1997 he has been working at the Institute on agent-based modelling of human-natural systems, and has worked on various international and interdisciplinary projects using agent-based modelling to study agricultural systems, lifestyles, and transitions to more sustainable ways of living. In 2016, he was elected President of the European Social Simulation Association, and was The James Hutton Institute's 2017 Science Challenge Leader on Developing Technical and Social Innovations that Support Sustainable and Resilient Communities.

ORCID, ResearcherID, Google Scholar, Linked-In, ResearchGate, @GaryPolhill

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Current research interests

I specialise in agent-based modelling of socio-environmental systems, and rigorous approaches to their design and interpretation. Agent-based modelling involves explicit representation of individuals and their interactions, observing the emergent effects these have on the dynamics of the system. It is a relatively new technique, offering an alternative to more traditional approaches to formal analysis of social systems. Within this context, I am particularly interested in options for managing environmental change in coupled human-natural systems through incentive schemes, but in the context of other drivers of human behaviour. We have developed models that can simulate and compare the effects of different rules for incentivising land managers on biodiversity at the landscape scale, whilst varying other drivers of decision change, such as markets, climate and social norms. I have also worked on agent-based modelling of lifestyles, pro-environmental behaviours and transitions to more sustainable ways of living, and current work is examining value chains and resilience in Scottish and Norwegian rural systems.

A key issue in developing models of this kind is transparency, and I am interested in the role of formal ontologies in describing and annotating simulation models and experiments. This is work I have developed in projects with the University of Aberdeen and in subsequent projects.

Past research

I have been involved in a number of international and inter- and transdisciplinary research projects, listed below (note that for older projects links are liable to get mothballed):

  • The CAVES (Complexity, Agents, Volatility, Evidence and Scale) project (2005-2008) was funded by the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme New and Emerging Science and Technology Pathfinder Initiative on Tackling Complexity in Science.
  • PolicyGrid (2006-2009) and PolicyGrid II (2009-2012) were collaborations with the University of Aberdeen funded by the Economic and Social Research Council through the National Centre for e-Social Science. This work also led to a short project called SwarmCloud with the aim of grid-enabling the FEARLUS model. (See also PolicyGrid and PolicyGrid II entry on ESRC's research catalogue.)
  • The GILDED (Governance, Infrastructure, Lifestyle Dynamics and Energy Demand) project (2008-2012) was funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.
  • The LOCAW (Low Carbon at Work: Modelling Agents and Organisations to Achieve Transition to a Low Carbon Europe) project (2011-2013) was funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.
  • The MIRACLE (Mining Relationships Among Variables in Large Datasets from Complex Systems) project (2014-2015) was funded by Round 3 of the Digging into Data Challenge. The UK contribution was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council via Jisc.
  • The GLAMURS (Green Lifestyles, Alternative Models and Up-scaling Regional Sustainability) project (2014-2016) was funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.

Bibliography

  • Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T.; Alonso-Betanzos, A.; Sanchez-Marono, N.; Fontenla-Romero, O.; Dumitru, A.; Garcia-Mira, R.; Bonnes, M.; Bonaiuto, M.; Carrus, G.; Marricchiolo, F.; Fornara, F.; Ilin, C.; Steg, L.; Ruepert, A.; Keizer, K., (2017) Interactions matter. Modelling everyday pro-environmental norm transmission and diffusion in workplace networks., In: Alonso-Betanzos, A., Sánchez-Maroño, N., Fontenla-Romero, O., Polhill, J.G., Craig, T., Bajo, J. & Corchado, J.M. (eds.) Agent-Based Modeling of Sustainable Behaviors. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, Chapter 2, pp27-52.
  • Grimm, V.; Polhill, J.G.; Touza, J., (2017) Documenting social simulation models: The ODD protocol as a standard. (Revised), In: Edmonds, B. & Meyer, R. (eds.). Simulating Social Complexity: A Handbook. 2nd edition. Springer, Berlin, pp349-365.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Salt, D., (2017) The importance of ontological structure: why validation by ‘fit-to-data’ is insufficient., In: Edmonds, B. & Meyer, R. (eds.) Simulating Social Complexity: A Handbook. 2nd edition. Springer, 141-172.
  • Sanchez-Maronon, N.; Alonso-Betanzos, A.; Fontenla-Romero, O.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2017) Empirically-deprived behavioural rules in agent-based models using decision trees learned from questionnaire data., In: Alonso-Betanzos, A., Sanchez-Marono, N., Fontenla-Romera, O., Polhill, J.G., Craig, T., Bajo, J. & Corchado, M. (eds.). Agent Based Modelling of Sustainable Behaviors. Springer, Switzerland, Chapter 3, pp53-76.
  • Ge, J.; Polhill, J.G., (2017) Preliminary results from an agent-based model of the daily commute in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, UK., In: Jager, W., Verbrugge R., Flache A., de Roo G., Hoogduin L. & Hemelrijk C. (eds.) Advances in Social Simulation 2015. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 528. Springer, Cham., pp129-142.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Gotts, N.M., (2017) How precise are the specifications of a psychological theory? Comparing implementations of Lindenberg and Steg's Goal-Framing Theory of everyday pro-environmental behaviour., In: Jager, W., Verbrugge R., Flache A., de Roo G., Hoogduin L. & Hemelrijk C. (eds.) Advances in Social Simulation 2015. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 528. Springer, Cham., 341-354.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Milazzo, L.; Dawson, T.; Gimona, A.; Parker, D., (2017) Lessons learned replicating the analysis of outputs from a social simulation of biodiversity incentivisation., In: Jager, W., Verbrugge R., Flache A., de Roo G., Hoogduin L. & Hemelrijk C. (eds.) Advances in Social Simulation 2015. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 528. Springer, Cham., 355-365.
  • Sanchez-Maronon, N.; Alonso-Betanzos, A.; Fontenla-Romero, O.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2015) Designing decision trees for representing sustainable behaviours in agents., In: Bajo, J., Hernandez, J.Z., Mathieu, P., Campbell, A., FernandezCaballero, A., Moreno, M.N., Julian, V., AlonsoBetanzos, A., JimenezLopez, M.D. & Botti, V. (eds.). Trends in Practical Applications of Agents, Multi-Agent Systems and Sustainability: The PAAMS Collection, Advances in Intelligent Systems and Sustainability, Springer, Berlin, Volume 372, 169-176.
  • Grimm, V.; Polhill, J.G.; Touza, J., (2013) Documenting social simulation models: the ODD protocol as a standard., In: Edmonds, B. & Meyer, R. (eds.). Simulating Social Complexity: A Handbook. Springer, Berlin, Part II, pp117-133.
  • Gimona, A.; Polhill, J.G.; Davies, B.B., (2011) Sinks, sustainability and conservation incentives., In: Sources, Sinks and Sustainability (eds. Liu, J., Hull, V., Morzillo, A., and Wiens, J). Cambridge University Press, Chapter 8, pp155-178.
  • Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G.; Law, A.N.R., (2010) Agent-based simulation in the study of social dilemmas., In: Gilbert, N. (ed.). Computational Social Science. SAGE Benchmarks in Social Research Methods Series, Volume 3. Sage Publications. ISBN-10: 1847871712, ISBN-13: 978-1847871718.
  • Polhill, J.G., (2009) Agent-based modelling of socio-economic processes related to the environment: Example of land-use change., In: Baveye, P., Mysiak, J., Laba, M. (eds.). Uncertainties in Environmental Modelling and Consequences for Policy-Making. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C - Environmental Security, Springer, 61-76. ISBN 978-90-481-2634
  • Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G., (2009) Narrative scenarios, mediating formalisms, and the agent-based simulation of land use change., In: Squazzoni, F. (ed.). Epistemological Aspects of Computer Simulation in the Social Sciences, Proceedings from 2nd International Workshop on Epistemological Perspectives on Simulation (EPOS), Brescia, Italy, 4-5 October 2006. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 5466, 99-116.
  • Pignotti, E.; Edwards, P.; Preece, A.; Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G., (2008) Enhancing workflow with semantic descriptions of scientific intent., In: Goos, G., Hartmanis, J. & van Leeuwen (eds.). The Semantic Web: Research and Applications, 5th European Semantic Web Conference, Tenerife, Spain, 1-5 June 2008. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5021, Springer, Berlin, pp644-658.
  • Parker, D.C.; Brown, D.G.; Polhill, J.G.; Deadman, P.J.; Manson, S.M., (2008) Ilustrating a new "conceptual design pattern" for agent-based models of land use via five case studies - the MR POTATOHEAD framework., In: Lopez Paredes, A. & Hernandez, I. Agent-Based Modelling in Natural Resource Management. INSISOC, Valladolid, Spain, 23-51
  • Polhill, J.G.; Parker, D.C.; Gotts, N.M., (2007) Effects of land markets on competition between innovators and imitators in land use: results from FEARLUS-ELMM., In: Edmonds, B., Hernandez Iglesias, C. & Troitzsch, K.G. Social Simulation: Technologies, Advances and New Discoveries. Information Science Reference, London, Chapter 7, 81-97.

  • Salt, D.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2016) Deliverable 2.2: Report on the ontology generation and data and knowledge integration., Green Lifestyles Alternative Models and Up-scaling Regional Sustainability / GLAMURS EU SSH.2013.2.1-1 Grant Agreement No. 613420.
  • Salt, D.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2016) Deliverable 2., Report for Glamurs Ontology Project.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T.; Ge, J.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A., (2016) Out-of-range wattage in CurrentCost energy monitor readings., Short Report to CurrentCost.
  • Sutherland, L.A.; Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G., (2006) CAVES: Complexity, agents, volatility, evidence and scale., Grampian Region Field Research Report. CAVES EU F6 Project.
  • Matthews, R.B.; Gilbert, N.; Roach, A.; Polhill, J.G.; Gotts, N.M.; Izquierdo, L.R., (2005) Development of a rural economy and land use simulation modelling strategy., Final Project Report of RELU Development Activity RES-224-25-0102, Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB158QH, UK.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.