ENGINEERING NEWS

NetLogo Now Available on the Web

Users can run the program in a browser instead of a separate application

NetLogo users can now examine interactive webs — with the web. 

The most widely used agent-based programming language and modeling environment in the world, NetLogo, has launched a new web version. With NetLogo Web, users can run the popular program in a browser in addition to running the traditional mode as a separate application.

Uri Wilensky“We use NetLogo in education for many different levels of learning,” said Northwestern Engineering’s Uri Wilensky, who created NetLogo. “IT departments often don’t like installing applications but visiting a website is seamless.”

Agent-based modeling is a type of computer simulation used to examine how the behavior of systems with many interacting parts unfolds over time. NetLogo allows users to divide phenomena into different agents and give the agents properties and rules that control their behaviors and interactions. Within the simulation, agents move and follow those rules to demonstrate how the system grows and changes over time. Agents can be anything — atoms in a material, animals in an ecosystem, or people in a community.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, NetLogo Web will enable users to share their models with others online. Because models can now be saved as HTML files, they can be embedded into web pages accompanied by articles and tutorials to make teaching easier.

Wilensky, a professor of computer science and learning sciences at Northwestern University, began developing agent-based modeling environments in 1989 when he was a student at MIT. Ten years later, NetLogo emerged as a fully formed product. Now the popular modeling program has resulted in thousands of scientific articles in top journals. Tens of thousands of students use NetLogo in school to learn about chemistry, anthropology, economics, and more.

“The web-based version runs on many platforms, such as tablets and smartphones,” Wilensky said. “In today’s world, that’s important.