NetLogo plugin for data provenance

Date: Monday the 23rdth of September 2019
Duration: 60 minutes
Place: SSC2019
Organised by: ESSA SIG Using qualitative data to inform behavioural rules
Contact: Melania Borit, University of Tromsø (UiT) – The Arctic University of Norway (

Workshop holder:

Nicolas Payette*, School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford

Agent-Based Models (ABMs) are useful tools to study emergent collective behaviour of individual entities (or agents) in social, biological, economic, network, and physical systems. Provenance information can support ABMs by explaining individual agent behaviour. Provenance provides information about entities, activities, and people involved in producing a piece of data or thing, which can be used to form assessments about its quality, reliability, or trustworthiness. How the simulation models themselves have been generated has received little attention. Although efforts have been dedicated to making simulation models accessible and facilitating their reuse, such as the ODD protocol, these focus on the product, i.e., what the model looks like, rather than the process, i.e., how the model has been generated. ODD+P (Reinhardt et al. 2018**) has been proposed as a solution. However, the need of a NetLogo plugin to help documenting data provenance in ABMs was raised and discussed during the NIAS-Lorentz Centre workshop “Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence Using Social Simulation” (8-12.04.2019). In the months leading to the workshop, we will lay the technical groundwork for the development of such a tool. A preliminary version of the plugin will allow modellers to link NetLogo code to various theoretical and empirical sources hosted online via URLs, but future versions should allow richer linking semantics: different sources should be treated differently, and context-specific provenance information should be provided.


During this workshop we plan to have a hands-on session demonstrating the newly-developed plugin to the audience. This will allow us to collect feedback on what will have been achieved so far and will also serve as the basis of a discussion about what remains to be accomplished. This last part is especially important, as we want the community to be involved in the general development process and, in particular, to have a say in which types of data sources the plugin should be able to link to and how it should handle them.


* Nicolas Payette, PhD. Nicolas is a computer programmer with a background in philosophy. He currently works as Senior Research Associate in Agent-Based Modelling, School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford. He likes to build agent-based models and to build tools for building agent-based models. He has contributed to the development of the NetLogo platform and is the author of many NetLogo extensions.

** Reinhardt, Oliver, Andreas Rucheinski, and Adelinde M. Uhrmacher. "ODD+ P: complementing the ODD protocol with provenance information." 2018 Winter Simulation Conference (WSC). IEEE, 2018.