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Math Biosci. 2007 Oct;209(2):361-85. Epub 2007 Feb 28.

Bringing consistency to simulation of population models--Poisson simulation as a bridge between micro and macro simulation.

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Department of Biometry and Engineering, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7032, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.


Population models concern collections of discrete entities such as atoms, cells, humans, animals, etc., where the focus is on the number of entities in a population. Because of the complexity of such models, simulation is usually needed to reproduce their complete dynamic and stochastic behaviour. Two main types of simulation models are used for different purposes, namely micro-simulation models, where each individual is described with its particular attributes and behaviour, and macro-simulation models based on stochastic differential equations, where the population is described in aggregated terms by the number of individuals in different states. Consistency between micro- and macro-models is a crucial but often neglected aspect. This paper demonstrates how the Poisson Simulation technique can be used to produce a population macro-model consistent with the corresponding micro-model. This is accomplished by defining Poisson Simulation in strictly mathematical terms as a series of Poisson processes that generate sequences of Poisson distributions with dynamically varying parameters. The method can be applied to any population model. It provides the unique stochastic and dynamic macro-model consistent with a correct micro-model. The paper also presents a general macro form for stochastic and dynamic population models. In an appendix Poisson Simulation is compared with Markov Simulation showing a number of advantages. Especially aggregation into state variables and aggregation of many events per time-step makes Poisson Simulation orders of magnitude faster than Markov Simulation. Furthermore, you can build and execute much larger and more complicated models with Poisson Simulation than is possible with the Markov approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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