A Parallel Sliding Region Algorithm to Make Agent-Based Modeling Possible for a Large-Scale Simulation: Modeling Hepatitis C Epidemics in Canada

IEEE J Biomed Health Inform. 2016 Nov;20(6):1538-1544. doi: 10.1109/JBHI.2015.2471804. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


Agent-based models (ABMs) are computer simulation models that define interactions among agents and simulate emergent behaviors that arise from the ensemble of local decisions. ABMs have been increasingly used to examine trends in infectious disease epidemiology. However, the main limitation of ABMs is the high computational cost for a large-scale simulation. To improve the computational efficiency for large-scale ABM simulations, we built a parallelizable sliding region algorithm (SRA) for ABM and compared it to a nonparallelizable ABM. We developed a complex agent network and performed two simulations to model hepatitis C epidemics based on the real demographic data from Saskatchewan, Canada. The first simulation used the SRA that processed on each postal code subregion subsequently. The second simulation processed the entire population simultaneously. It was concluded that the parallelizable SRA showed computational time saving with comparable results in a province-wide simulation. Using the same method, SRA can be generalized for performing a country-wide simulation. Thus, this parallel algorithm enables the possibility of using ABM for large-scale simulation with limited computational resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Epidemics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Heterosexuality
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous