Life as Clay

Population Generator

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Well, I’ve been away, working on a larger project. It’s less artsy but more practical towards my interests in simulation. Interestingly, it takes only mild deviations away from the world of data art to begin to realize the limitations of Processing. (That’s not entirely fair: Processing can import and use Java libraries, so there is more available that I currently am using. I have not, however, played with importing other libraries yet.)

I created a population generator that randomly generates a population of a specified size. It then displays 4 random members of the population above the demographics of the population. Clicking (can’t do it here, on the image….) rotates different members of the population into the slots above the demographics. Age 18 is considered full grown. People under 18 are displayed relative to the size of a full adult, scaled based on their age. Eventually, I will build in variation for height, weight, and other demographics. The colors of their shirts are randomly generated when they are created, but the tone of the skin on their head is randomly chosen from only 3 colors.

The demographics display is a technique used frequently in public health and demography, called a population pyramid. I think mine is upside down, but that’s an easy fix. In fact, I already fixed it in the code, but didn’t want to take a new screenshot. :)

So, why do this? My hope is to be able to create digital populations of people that I can use to simulate a variety of things related to public health, disease, and complex emergencies. That’s a long way down the road, but I think that I’ve done pretty well for the two days that I’ve spent working on it so far — especially for a programming newbie!

This definitely remains a work in progress, but this is what it currently looks like:

Population Generator


Written by Clay

November 5, 2009 at 22:03

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