Computational approaches to Physical and Virtual Crowd Phenomena

Prof. Giuseppe Vizzari

University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy

This course discusses issues, opportunities and current approaches to the study of complex systems (by means of direct analysis of the related dynamics, as well as by means of modeling and simulation) considering specifically crowding phenomena as a specific example, on which both activities of analysis and synthesis (modeling and simulation) will be discussed. Particular attention will be paid to the phenomena related to the actual movement of pedestrians and crowds in the built environment, that are studied with the final goal of supporting designers, planners and managers of events characterized by significant crowding conditions.The state of the art on modeling approaches will be presented, and also relevant exploitable tools for the simulation of crowds of pedestrians will be introduced. The course will finally discuss “virtual” forms of crowds, in particular, considering studies on the collective behaviour of (i) social network users and (ii) other kinds of socio-economic systems.

For the exam, students (potentially working in groups) will be asked to develop a prototypal version of a project in one of the discussed areas (either analysis or synthesis of crowd behaviour). Students will also be encouraged to actively participate lessons by suggesting relevant papers, projects or approaches.

Covered Topics:

  • Simulation of complex systems: the case of crowds
  • Physical Pedestrian and Crowd Models: Levels, Lifecycle, Approaches
  • Acquiring empirical data: experiments, observations and support tools
  • Modeling Pedestrian and Crowd Behaviour: the case of the Crystals Project
  • Tools of the trade: COTS, open source packages, things you could use
  • “Virtual crowds”: relevant recent case studies in social media and social sciences
  • Conclusions: challenges, opportunities, and your project


  • January 28, 2016 – 14:00 – 17:00, seminar room I floor – U14
  • February 5, 2016 – 14:00 – 17:00, meeting room of the III floor – U14
  • February 9, 2016 – 14:00 – 17:00, T024 – U14
  • February 11, 2016 – 14:00 – 17:00, T014 – U14
  • February 16, 2016 – 14:00 – 17:00, meeting room of the III floor – U14
  • February 18, 2016 – 14:00 – 17:00, meeting room of the III floor – U14
  • February 23, 2016 – 14:00 – 17:00, meeting room of the III floor – U14

Lessons on SlideShare

[slideshare id=57723530&doc=20160128-crowd-viz-intro-160201091305]

Slides on Floor Field CA approach by Prof. Andreas Schadschneider.

[slideshare id=30351576&doc=viz-trb-2014-workshop-140123102254-phpapp02]

[slideshare id=58185531&doc=vizgallery-160212095059]

[slideshare id=58185610&doc=vision-160212095323]

[slideshare id=58185768&doc=20160211crowdvizcrystals-160212095759]