Individual and node properties

One of the strengths of an agent-based model, as opposed to a compartmental model governed by ODEs, is that you can introduce heterogeneity in individuals and regions. For example, you can define property values for accessibility, age, geography, risk, and other properties and assign these values to individuals or nodes in the simulation.

These properties are most commonly used to target (or avoid targeting) particular nodes or individuals with interventions. For example, you might want to put individuals into different age bins and then target interventions to individuals in a particular age bin. Another common use is to configure treatment coverage to be higher for nodes that are easy to access and lower for nodes that are difficult to access. For more information on creating campaign interventions, see Creating campaigns.

For the generic simulation type, you can also configure heterogeneous transmission between individuals with different property values. For more information, see Property-based heterogeneous disease transmission. For other simulation types, transmission is configured using mechanistic parameter settings, such as parasite density, viral load, biting frequency, and other measures relevant to the disease being modeled. See Infectivity and transmission for more information.

The following sections describe how to define individual properties and assign different values to individuals in a simulation. However, with the exception of setting up age bins, you can use the same process to assign properties to a node. To see all individual and node property parameters, see NodeProperties and IndividualProperties.

Create individual properties other than age

Assigning property values to individuals uses the IndividualProperties parameter in the demographics file. See Demographics parameters for a list of supported properties. The values you assign to properties are user-defined and can be applied to individuals in all nodes or only in particular nodes in a simulation.

Note that although EMOD provides several different properties, such as risk and accessibility, these properties do not add logic, in and of themselves, to the simulation. For example, if you define individuals as high and low risk, that does not add different risk factors to the individuals. Higher prevalence or any other differences must be configured separately. Therefore, the different properties are merely suggestions and can be used to track any property you like.

  1. In the demographics file, add the IndividualProperties parameter and set it to an empty array. If you want the values to apply to all nodes, add it in the Defaults section; if you want the values to be applied to specific nodes, add it to the Nodes section.
  2. In the array, add an empty JSON object. Within it, do the following:
    1. Add the Property parameter and set it to one of the supported values.
    2. Add the Values parameter and set it to an array of possible values that can be assigned to individuals. You can define any string value here.
    3. Add the Initial_Distribution parameter and set it to an array of numbers that add up to 1. This configures the initial distribution of the values assigned to individuals in one or all nodes.
  3. If you want to add another property and associated values, add a new JSON object in the IndividualProperties array as above.

Note

Multiple properties must be defined in one file. They can be defined in either the base layer demographics file or an overlay file, but they cannot be split between the files. The maximum number of property types that can be added is two.

Create properties for age ranges

Creating properties based on age ranges works a little differently than other properties. Age_Bin is tied to the simulated age of an individual rather than being an independent property. Some of its characteristics, such as initial distribution and transitions, are dependent on information from the demographics file and EMOD that manages individual aging during the simulation.

  1. In the demographics file, add the IndividualProperties parameter and set it to an empty array. If you want the values to apply to all nodes, add it in the Defaults section; if you want the values to be applied to specific nodes, add it to the Nodes section.
  2. In the array, add an empty JSON object. Within it, do the following:
    1. Add the Property parameter and set it to “Age_Bin”.
    2. Add the Age_Bin_Edges_In_Years parameter and set it to an array that contains a comma- delimited list of integers in ascending order that define the boundaries used for each of the age bins, in years. The first number must always be 0 (zero) to indicate the age at birth and the last number must be -1 to indicate the maximum age in the simulation.

The example below shows how to set up several property values based on disease risk and physical place. It also defines three age bins: 0 to 5 years, older than 5 to 13, and older than 13 to the maximum age.

{
    "Defaults": {
        "IndividualProperties": [{
            "Property": "Risk",
            "Values": ["Low", "Medium", "High"],
            "Initial_Distribution": [0.7, 0.2, 0.1]
        }, {
            "Property": "Place",
            "Values": ["Community", "School", "Work", "Vacation"],
            "Initial_Distribution": [0.3, 0.2, 0.4, 0.1]
        }, {
            "Property": "Age_Bin",
            "Age_Bin_Edges_In_Years": [0, 5, 13, -1],
            "Transitions": []
        }]
    }
}

For an example of a complete demographics file with individual properties set, see the demographics file used in the 11_HINT_AgeAndAccess scenario. This scenario is described in more detail in Property-based heterogeneous disease transmission.