Purdue professors to research 'computational cities'
A computer graphics technology professor is involved with a new simulation project that will help model the effects of urban policies on a variety of issues.
Bedrich Benes, associate professor of computer graphics technology, and Daniel Aliaga, associate professor of computer science, have partnered with two professors at the University of California Berkeley (Paul Waddell in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Michael Jordan in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) to create what they are calling computational cities.
“We want to understand how cities evolve,” Benes said. “We are using computational methods to simulate cities and their development.”
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the research will investigate a new framework for interactively modeling and visualizing socio-economic and geometric characteristics of urban areas. The project blends three distinct academic areas: computer graphics and visualization, behavioral urban modeling and probabilistic graphical modeling.
The research group will use readily available information about an area as the baseline for a project. They will create a new database that will include information about parcel and building inventories, business inventories, census data, household surveys, and geographic information system (GIS) data. Users of the system will then introduce new information into the database to model how the area will be affected.
Benes will work primarily on the simulation and real-time rendering of the simulations.
The open-source research project will enable users — city planners, researchers, students and citizens — to efficiently simulate urban processes not previously possible. They will be able to visualize the effects of new developments, from buildings to highways to green spaces. Because the simulations will take into account behavioral dimensions, they will be able to predict effects on sustainability, equity, infrastructure and economic development.
Several organizations in the San Francisco Bay area and Puget Sound region in Washington will help test the new framework.
This new research will dovetail with other projects the investigators are working on, including the NSF-funded Drought Research Initiative Network and a project funded by Adobe Research.