Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mathematical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Segal Segal


This study asks the question: If we take a small neighborhood and introduce a barrier, how will the neighborhood change? Will it be better protected and flourish, or will it decay and die or perhaps will there be no change at all? What determines the outcome? This work tries to answer these questions by creating an Agent-Based Model (ABM) to test different scenarios and observe the results. Urban environments, both natural and built, are complex systems, containing a multitude of people, landscapes and buildings. Simple changes in street-lighting and sidewalks, the addition of trees and green scapes or the enforcement of “broken-window” policies impact local neighborhoods [1]. Measuring behavior changes on a neighborhood level are difficult to quantify, but by using ABM methods we can build our neighborhood, populate it with a variety of actors and watch their interaction with each other, and with introduced stimuli. Our simulation introduces a barrier (highway) with varying permeability into a mixed use neighborhood loosely based on Richmond’s Jackson Ward. Several metrics (such as property value, crime rates, etc.) were used to determine if the neighborhood was under duress, or thriving. In real-world terms we built a roadway though the neighborhood and observed the “severance effect” as our actors’ adapted to reduced mobility and remained within their accessible range.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012