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Wolfram Summer School

June 24–July 14, 2018
Bentley University, Waltham, MA


Steffie Van Nieuland

Class of 2010


I'm a master's student in bioscience engineering (focusing on land and water management) at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Next year, I will write my master's thesis, titled "Ecologic monitoring and modeling of the pike (Esox lucius) in the Yzer" (Belgian river). Cellular automata will be used to spacially implement the aspects of the habitat at different places in the river. Once the model is made, the effect on the population of adjustments of the present habitat at a certain place can be modeled. In this way, the government will be able to assess the effects of different measures taken to increase the population. The objective of these assessments is to make correct investment decisions.

I have already been introduced to the concept of cellular automata, but have not had the chance to study or apply it yet. In order to study the technique and its applications in more depth, it is of my personal interest to follow the NKS Summer School and the unique opportunity to learn about cellular automata in a short period of time.

Project: Exploration of Alternative Sets Adhering to the Goldbach Conjecture

First, I explored systematically 1-dimensional continuous cellular automata (CCA). The cells in a CCA typically have a value between 0 and 1. The value of a cell in the model I considered is updated by first taking the average of the value of the cell and the values of its neighbors under consideration, and by then adding a constant.

Developing and exploring a function describing the growth of the population of pike

The title of my master's thesis is "Ecologic monitoring and modeling of the pike (Esox lucius) in the Yzer". In Flanders (Belgium), pike have difficulties surviving in rivers because of the deterioration of their natural habitat by humans. A better understanding of the spatial dynamics of pike populations is essential for proper management of pike populations. To gain insight in these dynamics, a discrete spatial-temporal model that is capable of capturing crucial features of pike ecology is needed. To obtain this goal, CA are useful.

Inspired by the logistic map, a spactial function describing the growth of a pike population was developed. A starvation rate from 0 to 0.1 was assumed. The birth process was governed by the number of pike in the considered cell, the neighboring cells, and the carrying capacity in the cell. If there are many pike in the neighbors compared to the cell under consideration, the environmental pressure heightens, less reproduction will occur, and vice versa.

Favorite Four-Color Totalistic Cellular Automaton

Rule 615634