The chouca user guide

Alexandre Génin [email protected]

chouca is engine in R for stochastic cellular automata, which are models that describes the temporal dynamics of a 2D grid made of cells. Each cell can be in one of a finite number of states, and switch states over time with probabilities that depend on their neighborhood.

A picture being worth a thousand words, the output of a stochastic cellular automaton looks like the following image in practice:

SCA example
SCA example

(NOTE: Please see animated version there).

Stochastic cellular automata are widely used to describe the dynamics of landscapes, for example, forests or corals growing over space. Yet, implementations are often ad-hoc, and done by the authors themselves, which is prone to bugs and often leads to slow implementations. chouca tries to avoid this by providing a common base onto which such models can be built. The goal is for the user to declare the probabilities of state transitions of the model, then chouca handles the rest.

chouca supports a wide selection of models, while preserving decent performance. This is done by writing most of the code in C++, and being able to emit and compile C++ code on the fly for a specific model at run time. This enables compiler optimizations that would be impossible with pre-compiled code, and often improves simulation speed by one or two orders of magnitude. chouca can also use a memoisation-based strategy to run simulations, in which probabilities are not recomputed for each cell at each iteration, providing another boost in performance. For supported models, chouca can be 3 to 4 orders of magnitude faster than common implementations.

While chouca is built mainly for stochastic cellular automata, it can also handle non-stochastic cellular automata, such as Conway’s Game of Life or the rock-paper-scissor automaton. This is because a deterministic cellular automaton is simply a stochastic celular automata in which transition probabilities are always ones or zero.

Your first model in chouca

To give you an idea on how chouca works, let’s implement a small forest gap model (Kubo et al. 1996). In such model, cells can be either ‘empty’, or filled with a tree, what we call here the ‘forest’ state. Trees produce seeds that can fly over the whole landscape and land haphazardly in any cell. Thus, the probability of an empty cell to switch to the forested state is proportional to \(p_+\), the proportion of cells with trees in the landscape. If we represent the empty state as \(0\) and the forest state as \(+\), this probability of transition is thus:

\[P(0 \rightarrow +) = \alpha p_{+}\]

where \(\alpha\) is the rate at which seeds are produced by each tree.

Trees naturally die over time, and because wind bursts are stronger in empty areas, trees have a higher probability of dying when they have empty neighboring cells:

\[P(+ \rightarrow 0) = \delta_0 + \delta q_{empty}\]

Here, \(q_{empty}\) denotes the proportion of cells around the focal cell that are empty, i.e. in the “empty” state. \(q_{empty}\) is equal to one when a cell has all of its neighbors in the empty state, and zero when none of the neighbors is in this state.

This model has three parameters, \(\alpha\), \(\delta_0\) and \(\delta\), and can be defined in chouca using the following syntax:

kubo_model <- camodel(
  transition(from = "0",  to = "+", ~ alpha * p["+"]),         # reproduction of trees
  transition(from = "+", to = "0", ~ delta0 + delta * q["0"]), # death 
  parms = list(alpha = 0.6, delta0 = 0.05, delta = 0.4),
  wrap = TRUE,
  neighbors = 8
)

We first declare two transitions, including the states between which they occur, and an expression describing how to compute the probability. In that expression, p refers to the proportions of cells of the landscape in each state, and q refers to the the proportion of neighbors in each state. q["+"] for example represents the proportion of neighbors of a cell in the + state (forest), which is a number between 0 and 1.

We then set the argument parms to a list containing the numerical values of the model parameters. We use the argument wrap = TRUE to state that the model will be run on a space in which the edges “wrap around”, and the first column/top row of the landscape is neighboring the rightmost/bottom column (a toric space). We use the argument neighbors = 8 to state that we want to consider all 8 neighbors of a cell, i.e. including those that are diagonal. This type of neighborhood is referred to as the Moore neighborhood, the other supported type being a 4-way (or Von-Neumann) neighborhood.

A summary of the model can be printed on the R command line, that recalls the model definition and options.

kubo_model
## Stochastic Cellular Automaton 
##  
## States: 0 + 
##  
## Transition: 0 -> + 
##   ~   alpha * p["+"] 
## Transition: + -> 0 
##   ~   delta0 + delta * q["0"] 
##  
## Neighborhood: 8x8 
## Wrap: TRUE 
## Max error: 1.110223e-16 (OK) 
## Max rel error: 2.727665e-16 (OK)

You can also plot the model structure (the states and the transitions) as a graph, using the generic function plot():

plot(kubo_model)

The next step is to define the initial landscape from which we want to start the simulation. We can do so by using the function generate_initmat:

init_mat <- generate_initmat(kubo_model, 
                             pvec = c(0.5, 0.5),
                             nr = 128, nc = 256)

Here we initalize the covers to half forest and half empty space using the argument pvec, and use a landscape of 128 rows by 256 columns filled at random. We can now run the simulation:

out <- run_camodel(kubo_model, init_mat, times = seq(0, 100))
## iter =  0 (  0 %) 0:0.499 +:0.501 
## iter = 25 ( 25 %) 0:0.224 +:0.776 [206.61 iter/s]
## iter = 50 ( 50 %) 0:0.226 +:0.774 [206.61 iter/s]
## iter = 75 ( 75 %) 0:0.226 +:0.774 [213.68 iter/s]
## iter = 100 (100 %) 0:0.231 +:0.769 [208.33 iter/s]

We can then display the results, either in the R console using summary(), as a plot using the generic function plot(), which displays the global covers of each state through time, or image(), which displays the landscape:

summary(out)
## Stochastic Cellular Automaton simulation
## 
## Times: 0 to 100
## Landscape size: 128x256
## Global covers:
##          t         0         +
##  [96,]  95 0.2252502 0.7747498
##  [97,]  96 0.2278442 0.7721558
##  [98,]  97 0.2294922 0.7705078
##  [99,]  98 0.2302551 0.7697449
## [100,]  99 0.2308350 0.7691650
## [101,] 100 0.2309875 0.7690125
## Landscapes saved: 2
## 
## The following methods are available: 
##    image levels plot 
## 
## Extract simulation results using one of:
##   out[["output"]][["covers"]]
##   out[["output"]][["snapshots"]]
oldpar <- par(mfrow = c(1, 2))
plot(out)
title("Global covers over time")
image(out)

# Restore graphical parameters
par(oldpar)

Supported models

chouca works only with models that use either a 4x4 or 8x8 neighborhood (von Neumann or Moore neighborhood, respectively), and in which the effects are isotropic, i.e. all neighbors have a similar effect regardless of whether they are above, or below a given cell. Cellular automata that involve a preferencial direction cannot be implemented in chouca, for example with water running downslope in a landscape (Mayor et al. 2013).

The probabilities of transition can have any form, but respecting those two principles will work better:

Overall, the assumed functional form of transitions probabilities must be the following:

\[ P( a \rightarrow b ) = \beta_0 + \sum_{s \in S} f_s(q_s) + \zeta(\boldsymbol p, \boldsymbol p) + \zeta(\boldsymbol p, \boldsymbol q) + \zeta(\boldsymbol q, \boldsymbol q) \]

where \(S\) represents the set of states of the cellular automaton, \(f_s\) can be any function of \(q_s\). \(\zeta(\boldsymbol x, \boldsymbol y)\) is, for two vectors of length \(n\) \(\boldsymbol x = (x_1, x_2, ..., x_n)\) and \(\boldsymbol y = (y_1, y_2, ..., y_n)\), the sum of \(K\) terms \[ \zeta(\boldsymbol x, \boldsymbol y) = \beta_1 x_1^{a_0} x_2^{b_0} + \beta_2 x_2^{a_1} x_1^{b_1} + \beta_3 x_3^{a_2} x_1^{b_1} + ... \beta_K x_n^{a_K} x_1^{b_K} \]

All the \((\beta_i)_{i \in [1:K]}\), \((a)_{i \in [1:K]}\), \((b)_{i \in [1:K]}\) are constant model parameters. Many models can be represented using this functional form - however, this may not always be the case, especially as soon as non-linear functions are involved (exp, sin, etc.), or functions with discontinuities. This functional form looks daunting, but chouca will warn you if the transition probabilities cannot be accurately computed, so the best way to go is probably to write your model and see if it is supported.

For all models, chouca reports an estimation of the error on the probabilities of transition, and whether probabilities can reach problematic values above one or below zero. For example, the above forest model can be perfectly represented by chouca, so the reported error is zero:

print(kubo_model)
## Stochastic Cellular Automaton 
##  
## States: 0 + 
##  
## Transition: 0 -> + 
##   ~   alpha * p["+"] 
## Transition: + -> 0 
##   ~   delta0 + delta * q["0"] 
##  
## Neighborhood: 8x8 
## Wrap: TRUE 
## Max error: 1.110223e-16 (OK) 
## Max rel error: 2.727665e-16 (OK)

The following model, which includes an exponential function of the neighborhood, has a non-zero error, because this exponential function cannot be perfectly approximated by a polynomial:

mod <- camodel(
  transition(from = "dead", to = "live", ~ 0.1 + exp(0.2 * q["dead"] + p["dead"])),
  transition(from = "live", to = "dead", ~ 0.1),
  wrap = TRUE,
  neighbors = 8
)
print(mod)
## Stochastic Cellular Automaton 
##  
## States: dead live 
##  
## Transition: dead -> live 
##   ~   0.1 + exp(0.2 * q["dead"] + p["dead"]) 
## Transition: live -> dead 
##   ~   0.1 
##  
## Neighborhood: 8x8 
## Wrap: TRUE 
## Max error: 3.941178e-05 (OK) 
## Max rel error: 3.326701e-05 (OK)

The reported maximum absolute error on the probability of transitions is 3.9e-05, which is very small. The relative maximum error, in other words the error in percentage of the exact probability, is also very small (3.3e-05). Because both these probabilities are very small, you are probably safe to run this model in chouca and obtain correct results, despite the fact that it does not follow the ideal form.

The following model gives more trouble:

mod <- camodel(transition(from = "dead", to = "live",
                          ~ 0.1 + sin(pi * q["dead"] * p["dead"] )),
               transition(from = "live", to = "dead",
                          ~ 0.1),
               wrap = TRUE,
               neighbors = 8)
## Warning: Residual error in computed probabilities
##   max error: 0.234
##   max rel error: 0.847
## Problematic probability expression: 
## Transition from dead to live
##   ~ 0.1 + sin(pi * q["dead"] * p["dead"])
print(mod)
## Stochastic Cellular Automaton 
##  
## States: dead live 
##  
## Transition: dead -> live 
##   ~   0.1 + sin(pi * q["dead"] * p["dead"]) 
## Transition: live -> dead 
##   ~   0.1 
##  
## Neighborhood: 8x8 
## Wrap: TRUE 
## Max error: 0.2341252 (WARNING) 
## Max rel error: 0.8471104 (WARNING)

Here, both the absolute and relative errors on the computed probabilities are non-negligible (0.23 and 0.85). A warning is produced, and the problematic transition is pointed out. You should probably revise this model if you want to make it work with chouca. A possible approach is to approximate the function by a taylor expansion of \(sin\), for example using the expansion in zero: \(sin(x) \approx x - \frac{x^3}{3!} + \frac{x^5}{5!}\).

sin_approx <- function(x) {
  x - x^3/factorial(3) + x^5/factorial(5)
}

mod <- camodel(transition(from = "dead", to = "live",
                          ~ 0.1 + sin_approx(pi * q["dead"] * p["dead"]) ),
               transition(from = "live", to = "dead",
                          ~ 0.1),
               wrap = TRUE,
               neighbors = 8)
print(mod) # negligible error this time, as we use an approximation of sin()
## Stochastic Cellular Automaton 
##  
## States: dead live 
##  
## Transition: dead -> live 
##   ~   0.1 + sin_approx(pi * q["dead"] * p["dead"]) 
## Transition: live -> dead 
##   ~   0.1 
##  
## Neighborhood: 8x8 
## Wrap: TRUE 
## Max error: 5.209336e-09 (OK) 
## Max rel error: 4.721996e-09 (OK)

Performance

One of the main appeal of chouca is its performance: which is affected by various factors. The main one is the model complexity. Using a model with transition probabilities that are complicated products of global or neighbor covers, or that do not fit well the expected functional form will lead to poor performance. When possible, try to make your model follow this form. That being said, several approaches exist to improve simulation speed, regardless of the model: (i) on-the-fly compilation, (ii) memoisation of transition probabilities and (iii) multithreading.

On-the-fly compilation can be enabled using the “compiled” engine to run the cellular automaton. This is done by setting the engine control argument to the string “compiled”:

control_args <- list(engine = "compiled",
                     precompute_probas = FALSE) # see below for meaning of this parameter

out <- run_camodel(kubo_model,
                   initmat = init_mat,
                   times = seq(0, 512),
                   control = control_args)
## iter =   0 (  0 %) 0:0.499 +:0.501 
## iter = 128 ( 25 %) 0:0.233 +:0.767 [1103.45 iter/s]
## iter = 256 ( 50 %) 0:0.222 +:0.778 [1084.75 iter/s]
## iter = 384 ( 75 %) 0:0.222 +:0.778 [1113.04 iter/s]
## iter = 512 (100 %) 0:0.232 +:0.768 [1066.67 iter/s]

On first run, this model will take a few extra seconds to run as the C++ code corresponding to the model needs to be compiled. However, the simulation itself will be much faster. Compilation only needs to be done when the structure of the model or the size of the landscape changes. A simple change in parameter value will not trigger a new compilation, except when the probabilities of transition can be simplified, for example when a parameter is set to zero.

Another approach to better performance lies in the precomputation of probabilities. The naive approach to run a CA is to consider each cell in the landscape one by one, and compute its probability of transition to every state it could switch to. This may entail a lot of repeated computations, as many cells will have the same neighborhood configurations. To avoid this, we can compute the probabilities of transition for every neighborhood configuration, and just look the number up to know whether cells switch or not. This approach is enabled by using the argument precompute_probas in the control list:

control_args <- list(engine = "compiled",
                     precompute_probas = TRUE,
                     console_output_every = 128) # report less often on console

out <- run_camodel(kubo_model,
                   initmat = init_mat,
                   times = seq(0, 512),
                   control = control_args)
## iter =   0 (  0 %) 0:0.499 +:0.501 
## iter = 128 ( 25 %) 0:0.227 +:0.773 [2844.44 iter/s]
## iter = 256 ( 50 %) 0:0.231 +:0.769 [2909.09 iter/s]
## iter = 384 ( 75 %) 0:0.227 +:0.773 [2976.74 iter/s]
## iter = 512 (100 %) 0:0.228 +:0.772 [2976.74 iter/s]

This can dramatically improve the performance for models that have a small number of states and simple transition rules. However, it may be counter-productive for models with a larger number of states, as the number of neighborhood configurations grows very quickly with the number of different model states (\(S^4\) or \(S^8\) for \(S\) states, depending on the type of neighborhood). By default, a simple heuristic is used to make a decent choice.

The last approach to improve performance is to use multithreading. In chouca, the approach used considers the updating of cells in parallel, instead of doing it one-by-one. However, there is some synchronisation work required between threads to make sure the different cores are not writing to shared data structures. This often results in a significant overhead, and thus only small performance improvements when using memoisation.

control_args <- list(engine = "compiled",
                     precompute_probas = TRUE,
                     cores = 2,
                     console_output_every = 128)

out <- run_camodel(kubo_model,
                   initmat = init_mat,
                   times = seq(0, 512),
                   control = control_args)
## iter =   0 (  0 %) 0:0.499 +:0.501 
## iter = 128 ( 25 %) 0:0.227 +:0.773 [2612.24 iter/s]
## iter = 256 ( 50 %) 0:0.228 +:0.772 [2723.40 iter/s]
## iter = 384 ( 75 %) 0:0.225 +:0.775 [2723.40 iter/s]
## iter = 512 (100 %) 0:0.231 +:0.769 [2666.67 iter/s]

Future improvements of the package may improve this situation. In the meantime, if you happen to be running several simulations at the same time (which is often the case), you are probably better off parallelizing at a higher level. Note that if you are not using memoisation (precompute_probas = FALSE), then using multiple cores can be an interesting strategy.

Finally, because the model code is compiled on the fly, you may be able to use optimizations that are specific to your combination of platform and compiler. The best way to do so is to edit your platform ~/.R/Makevars file to add the flags you want, such as CXXFLAGS=-O3 -march=native -mtune=native. However, do not expect too much as most of the time this does not bring much more performance to the table.

Storing/discarding/accessing data

Various options are available to access simulation outputs. When nothing is specified, the percentage of cells in each state will be saved at each time step specified in the times vector (argument to run_camodel()), and the landscape at the first and last time step will be saved. These can be accessed by extracting elements from the object returned by run_camodel().

Global covers are saved as a matrix whose first column is the time, and the others are the percentages of cells in each state:

init <- generate_initmat(kubo_model, c(0.5, 0.5),
                         nr = 128)

run <- run_camodel(kubo_model, init, times = seq(0, 128, by = 1))
## iter =   0 (  0 %) 0:0.501 +:0.499 
## iter =  32 ( 25 %) 0:0.236 +:0.764 [395.06 iter/s]
## iter =  64 ( 50 %) 0:0.234 +:0.766 [410.26 iter/s]
## iter =  96 ( 75 %) 0:0.233 +:0.767 [426.67 iter/s]
## iter = 128 (100 %) 0:0.235 +:0.765 [426.67 iter/s]
# Extract covers and display the last lines of the table
covers <- run[["output"]][["covers"]]
tail(covers)
##          t         0         +
## [124,] 123 0.2280273 0.7719727
## [125,] 124 0.2318726 0.7681274
## [126,] 125 0.2299805 0.7700195
## [127,] 126 0.2291870 0.7708130
## [128,] 127 0.2302246 0.7697754
## [129,] 128 0.2346802 0.7653198

The landscape are also available, using a similar syntax. A nifty function to display landscapes is available in the spatialwarnings package, display_matrix():

landscapes <- run[["output"]][["snapshots"]]
spatialwarnings::display_matrix(landscapes)
## Warning in FUN(X[[i]], ...): The matrix has only two unique values, but it is
## not of logical type. Did you mean to use TRUE/FALSE values?

## Warning in FUN(X[[i]], ...): The matrix has only two unique values, but it is
## not of logical type. Did you mean to use TRUE/FALSE values?

Sometimes, we do not want to store everything at all time steps. One option to reduce output is to specify a different times vector to run_camodel(). This will not affect the precision of the simulation, but will simply change the points in time for which simulation output is saved.

# Save every eight iterations
run2 <- run_camodel(kubo_model, init, times = seq(0, 128, by = 8))
## iter =   0 (  0 %) 0:0.501 +:0.499 
## iter =  32 ( 25 %) 0:0.225 +:0.775 [421.05 iter/s]
## iter =  64 ( 50 %) 0:0.219 +:0.781 [432.43 iter/s]
## iter =  96 ( 75 %) 0:0.226 +:0.774 [432.43 iter/s]
## iter = 128 (100 %) 0:0.228 +:0.772 [432.43 iter/s]
covers2 <- run2[["output"]][["covers"]]
tail(covers2)
##         t         0         +
## [12,]  88 0.2244873 0.7755127
## [13,]  96 0.2259521 0.7740479
## [14,] 104 0.2303467 0.7696533
## [15,] 112 0.2338257 0.7661743
## [16,] 120 0.2296143 0.7703857
## [17,] 128 0.2280884 0.7719116
plot(covers[ ,"t"], covers[ ,"+"], type = "l", col = "red")
lines(covers2[ ,"t"], covers2[ ,"+"], col = "blue")

Another option is to set the control argument save_covers_every to something higher than one. This will only save simulation output at time points that are multiple of this value:

ctrl <- list(save_covers_every = 8)
run3 <- run_camodel(kubo_model, init, times = seq(0, 128, by = 1),
                    control = ctrl)
## iter =   0 (  0 %) 0:0.501 +:0.499 
## iter =  32 ( 25 %) 0:0.22 +:0.78 [426.67 iter/s]
## iter =  64 ( 50 %) 0:0.221 +:0.779 [432.43 iter/s]
## iter =  96 ( 75 %) 0:0.229 +:0.771 [432.43 iter/s]
## iter = 128 (100 %) 0:0.229 +:0.771 [432.43 iter/s]
covers3 <- run3[["output"]][["covers"]]
tail(covers3)
##         t         0         +
## [12,]  88 0.2294922 0.7705078
## [13,]  96 0.2289429 0.7710571
## [14,] 104 0.2272949 0.7727051
## [15,] 112 0.2345581 0.7654419
## [16,] 120 0.2295532 0.7704468
## [17,] 128 0.2294922 0.7705078
plot(covers[ ,"t"], covers[ ,"+"], type = "b", col = "red",
     xlab = "t", ylab = "forest c over")
lines(covers2[ ,"t"], covers2[ ,"+"], col = "blue")
points(covers2[ ,"t"], covers2[ ,"+"], col = "blue")
lines(covers3[ ,"t"], covers3[ ,"+"], col = "darkgreen")
points(covers3[ ,"t"], covers3[ ,"+"], col = "darkgreen")
legend(x = "right",
       legend = c("original", "reduced 'times' vector", "using 'save_covers_every'"),
       col = c("red", "blue", "darkgreen"),
       lty = c(1, 1, 1))

A similar argument exists for saving landscapes, save_snapshots_every, to reduce or increase the number of landscapes being saved during the simulation, with similar effects.

Running computations on the fly

Computing things

One of the easiest way to dissect the results of your simulation is simply to store the landscape, or the covers of each state as the simulation runs, then do what you want with them afterwards. This is not always possible, however, as the landscapes may be large and not that many may fit in your computer’s memory, or your model may be running for a large number of iterations. To avoid this, chouca can take a special function that will be executed as the simulation is running.

This function must have a specific form: its first argument should be t, the current time of the simulation (an integer), and the second should be mat, the current landscape (a matrix object containing the levels of a factor).

For example, we can compute how the spatial autocorrelation changes in the landscape as the simulation is running, measured by the Moran’s I index (available in package spatialwarnings:

mod <- ca_library("forestgap")
init <- generate_initmat(mod, c(TREE = .5, EMPTY = .5), nr = 256)

# Define the function that computes AC at lag-1 using Moran's I
compute_aclag1 <- function(t, mat) {
  m <- matrix(mat == "TREE", nrow = nrow(mat), ncol = ncol(mat))
  data.frame(t = t, ac = spatialwarnings::raw_moran(mat))
}

control_args <- list(save_covers_every = 0,
                     custom_output_every = 1,
                     custom_output_fun = compute_aclag1)

out <- run_camodel(mod, init, times = seq(0, 64), control = control_args)
## iter =  0 (  0 %) EMPTY: 0.5 TREE: 0.5 
## iter = 16 ( 25 %) EMPTY:0.53 TREE:0.47 [81.22 iter/s]
## iter = 32 ( 50 %) EMPTY:0.53 TREE:0.47 [87.43 iter/s]
## iter = 48 ( 75 %) EMPTY:0.53 TREE:0.47 [87.43 iter/s]
## iter = 64 (100 %) EMPTY:0.53 TREE:0.47 [86.02 iter/s]

The results can be extracted as follows:

my_output <- out[["output"]][["custom"]]

By default, all custom outputs are stored in a list, so a common operation is to transform it into a table using rbind or any other function:

my_tbl <- do.call(rbind, my_output)
tail(my_tbl, 10)
##     t         ac
## 56 55 0.01047830
## 57 56 0.01340074
## 58 57 0.01047830
## 59 58 0.01340074
## 60 59 0.01047830
## 61 60 0.01340074
## 62 61 0.01047830
## 63 62 0.01340074
## 64 63 0.01047830
## 65 64 0.01340074

Looking at simulations as they run

The ability to carry out on-line computations has the nice side-effect that simulations can be visualised as they are running. This can be done, again by passing a specific function that will be executed as the simulation runs. The package includes a few helpers to do so.

The first one is landscape_plotter(), which can be used as follow, and will display the landscape as it is being run. We use here the “rock-paper-scissor” model included with chouca for its pretty patterns:

mod <- ca_library("rock-paper-scissor")

ctrl <- list(custom_output_every = 1,
             precompute_probas = FALSE,
             custom_output_fun = landscape_plotter(mod))

init <- generate_initmat(mod, rep(1, 3)/3, 100, 178)

out <- run_camodel(mod, init, seq(0, 128), control = ctrl)
SCA result
SCA result

See also the animated version for this output.

Another option to visualize simulations as they run is using trace_plotter(), which will display the covers of each state in the landscape during the run:

ctrl <- list(custom_output_every = 1,
             custom_output_fun = trace_plotter(mod, init, max_samples = 128),
             console_output_every = 128)

out <- run_camodel(mod, init, seq(0, 512), control = ctrl)
Trace plotting result
Trace plotting result

See also the animated version for this output.

These two functions have many options to customize their output to your liking, which are documented in ?trace_plotter or ?landscape_plotter. Of course, using them involves a large performance penalty as plots needs to be redrawn during the execution of the simulation: make sure you remove them if you need to run a large amount of simulations!

Technical limitations

chouca has several caveats you may bump into as you use it:

References

Kubo, Takuya, Yoh Iwasa, and Naoki Furumoto. 1996. “Forest Spatial Dynamics with Gap Expansion: Total Gap Area and Gap Size Distribution.” Journal of Theoretical Biology 180 (3): 229–46.

Mayor, Ángeles G., Sonia Kéfi, Susana Bautista, Francisco Rodríguez, Fabrizio Cartení, and Max Rietkerk. 2013. “Feedbacks between Vegetation Pattern and Resource Loss Dramatically Decrease Ecosystem Resilience and Restoration Potential in a Simple Dryland Model.” Landscape Ecology 28 (5): 931–42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-013-9870-4.