Visit from partners at University of Florida 2017/06/19

Last week,  professor Greg Kiker and his PhD student Tori Morgan from the University of Florida (UF) visited us in Hamburg. The purpose of this visit was to deepen the partnership in ecological agent-based modelling, that exists since 2012.

Prof. Kiker is currently working on a research paper that compares the QND simulation system with MARS. Also, there are plans to use the MARS simulation system for educational purposes at the UF.

Tori Morgan recently started her studies on an agent-based model for simulating human and ecological exposure to mercury from informal gold mining activities in Columbia.


Christian and Tori discussing the mercury model.

MARSFest 2017 at University of Florida Gainesville – Day 3 2017/05/04

It’s a wrap! A very successful final day at the MARSFest 2017 is over! After discussing the results from various Wolves-Sheep-Model runs and revisiting the concepts and learning from Day 2, the group went on to take a look at the Kruger National Park model. For 2 hours we went through the features and discussed the agent-based design of this fully-featured large-scale MARS model. After a lunch break the attendees went on to alter and extend the Wolves-Sheep Model. For instance, they added a Mercury layer in order to poison the grass and thus the sheep as well as the wolves. Two other students directly jumped into working on their PhD projects with MARS. Very nice!

Dr. Greg Kiker explaining the Potential Field for Vegetation Cover in Kruger National Park.

Dr. Greg Kiker explaining more of the code.

Two screenshots from the Household Energy Resource (HER) model by Jaime Leon.

Showing the way data and model code get together in the MARS WebUI.

The cloud usage during the workshop. MARS running efficiently on the available hardware.

MARSFest 2017 at University of Florida Gainesville – Day 2 2017/05/02

Day 2 of MARSFest 2017 is over! We were starting out in the smaller room from yesterday, but as the word of MARSFest spread, more people kept coming in, so we moved the workshop to a proper classroom 🙂
After checking back on the HelloWorld model from yesterday, we explored the Predator-Prey model involving Wolves, Sheep and Grass. As everybody got the idea of how to build models with MARS in terms of layers, agents and the provided components, the attendees started to work on tuning the parameterization of the model to improve on its dynamics. A little challenge emerged to see who could get it to produce a decent population dynamic first 🙂 Tomorrow will have the introduction to the full-feature Kruger National Park model.

Again, here are some impressions from today:

First attempt in getting the dynamics of Wolves & Sheep right.

Going through the example model code and fine-tuning.

A final result from one of the attendees. Very nice!

MARSFest 2017 at University of Florida Gainesville – Day 1 2017/05/01

The MARSFest 2017 at the University of Florida in Gainesville is under way! We started out with 9 attendees and went trough an introduction on how MARS 2.0 works. A very good Q n’ A / discussion emerged as to what the unique capabilities like running models at scale in the cloud, importing large-scale data sets and modeling with the MARS LIFE Layer approach means for the modeler and the model alike. Finally all attendees concluded with working through the Getting Started Guide and getting their systems ready for production. Next up: First attempts in modeling with MARS based on the classical Predator-Prey model of Sheep, Wolves and Grass.

Finally some impressions from the Workshop:

MARSFest Sign

MARSFest Sign

MARSFest Sign

MARSFest Sign

MARS Cloud 2.0 Beta Available! 2017/04/21

With the SpringSim 2017 conference and the MARSFest at the UF in Gainesville closing in, the MARS team is proud to announce the availability of the MARS Cloud 2.0 Beta! The MARS Cloud WebUI is available from and public documentation may be found here: Welcome on MARS

To get access to the MARS Cloud Beta, we currently ask you to fill out our short usage inquiry here: USE MARS and sign up through the MARS WebUI ( We will then get back to you shortly!

MARSFest 2017 at University of Florida 2017/02/11

Together with our partner Prof. Greg Kiker from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of California (Prof. Kiker’s Profile Page) the MARS Group is organizing the MARSFest 2017 from May 1st to May 5th at the UF in Gainesville. Jan Dalski and Christian Hüning will present the current state of MARS 2.0 with an up to date version of the MARS KNP model to showcase the more advanced features of MARS., while a simple Wolves & Sheep model will be provided for a hands-on workshop.

As MARS 2.0 is in closed beta since February 2017, the presentation will also feature the first public release of the MARS Modeling Toolkit, which includes a MARS Plugin for the JetBrain C# IDE ‘Rider’ that will allow model developers to focus on their model’s logic and to debug the model code locally.

Furthermore the first version of the MARS Teaching UI will be shown and may be tried out by all participants in order to receive valuable feedback on the new UI for MARS 2.0.

MARS 2.0 at Spring Simulation Multi-Conference 2017 in Virginia Beach 2017/02/11

The MARS group will be presenting two papers at the Spring Simulation Multi-Conference 2017 ( in Virginia Beach, USA! The papers “An Output and 3D Visualization Concept for the MSaaS System MARS” by Jan Dalski and Christian Hüning as well as “Modeling Through Model Transformation with MARS 2.0” by Daniel Glake, Julius Weyl and Carolin Dohmen were accepted to the conference.

US Professor as Guest at the HAW 2016/11/17

Greg Kiker, Professor at the University of Florida, visited the MARS Group from November 7-11 in Hamburg. The goal of this international cooperation is a comparison of different modeling and simulation approaches for savannah regions. These ecosystems have a substantial effect on the stability of the worldwide climate.

The various simulation models were run with similar input data and well-defined scenarios. These scenarios consist of respectively three different elephant population dynamics and water management strategies. It can be already forecasted that MARS KNP magnificently succeeded in this comparison. The results are to be published in high-placed journals.

In this week a total of 12 simulation runs were conducted and several model details adjusted, e.g. the distinction between rain- and dry season during runtime as well as some refinements in the elephant behavior. First promising results and collective events topped off this interesting week.

3rd Interdisciplinary Workshop for Ecological Modeling 2016/10/31

Following the second successful interdisciplinary workshop on ecological modelling held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in December 2015, a third workshop was given in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, from the 11th until 12th October 2016. The general aim of this workshop series is to bring together academics involved in the teaching of computer science/ecology/zoology/biology/environmental science, researchers, students, and policy makers relying on the use of ecological models, and programmers responsible for creating the models. The workshop included lectures, small group discussions on the participants’ individual research questions, and broader discussion forums, e.g., focusing on teaching curricula for ecological modelling and other burning issues.
This year ten post-graduate students from different South African universities attended the event. All agreed that much had been learnt in the convivial environment both during the planned work sessions and afterwards at the communal dinner…