Scalable nonlinear dynamical systems for agent steering and crowd simulation

Siome Goldenstein, Menelaos Karavelas, Dimitris Metaxas, Leonidas Guibas, Eric Aaron, Ambarish Goswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


We present a new methodology for agent modeling that is scalable and efficient. It is based on the integration of nonlinear dynamical systems and kinetic data structures. The method consists of three layers, which together model 3D agent steering, crowds and flocks among moving and static obstacles. The first layer, the local layer employs nonlinear dynamical systems theory to models low-level behaviors. It is fast and efficient, and it does not depend on the total number of agents in the environment. This dynamical systems-based approach also allows us to establish continuous numerical parameters for modifying each agent's behavior. The second layer, a global environment layer consists of a specifically designed kinetic data structure to track efficiently the immediate environment of each agent and know which obstacles/agents are near or visible to the given agent. This layer reduces the complexity in the local layer. In the third layer, a global planning layer, the problem of target tracking is generalized in a way that allows navigation in maze-like terrains, avoidance of local minima and cooperation between agents. We implement this layer based on two approaches that are suitable for different applications: One approach is to track the closest single moving or static target; the second is to use a pre-specified vector field, which may be generated automatically (with harmonic functions, for example) or based on user input to achieve the desired output. We also discuss how hybrid systems concepts for global planning can capitalize on both our layered approach and the continuous, reactive nature of our agent steering. We demonstrate the power of the approach through a series of experiments simulating single/multiple agents and crowds moving towards moving/static targets in complex environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-998
Number of pages16
JournalComputers and Graphics (Pergamon)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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