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Mike Bithell MA PhD

Mike Bithell MA PhD

Assistant Director of Research in Computing

Interests lie in computational modelling of spatially distributed systems, including:- agent-based modelling of social-ecological and socio-technical systems; environmental, climate and land-use change and ecosystem models; human movement and the spread and effects of pollution and disease. I also investigate scaling of such models to large systems with many millions of individuals using High Performance Computing. In addition I provide general support to the Department for code maintenance and continuity, data storage, planning and management and seek to encourage a software-as-infrastructure approach to maintaining core applications, in collaboration with Department Data Champions.



  • 1999-2002 Research Staff, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford.
  • 1992-1999 Senior Research Fellow, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory


  • MA, Physics, University of Cambridge
  • PhD. Astrophysics, University of Cambridge


Current interests include:

  • Multi-agent simulation models of population dynamics and the emergence of structure in complex systems
  • Generation of robust models for socio-economic systems and their relation to environmental change
  • Investigating the possibilities of global-scale models for coupled human-environment dynamical systems


Recent publications

  • Bithell, M., Richards, K.S., and Bithell, E.G., (2014), "Simulation of scree slope dynamics: investigating the distribution of debris avalanche evets in an idealised two dimensional model" Earth Surface Processes and Landforms doi:10.1002/esp.3548
  • Evans, M.R., Bithell, M., Cornell,S.J, Dall, S.R.X, Diaz, S., Emmott, S., Ernande, B., Grimm, V., Hodgson, D.J., Lewis, S.L., Mace, G.M, Morecroft, M., Moustakas, A., Murphy, E., Newbold, T., Norris, K.J., Petchey, O., Smith, M., Travis, J.M.J., and Benton, T.G. (2013), "Predictive Systems Ecology", Proc.Roy.Soc.B 280(1771) 20131452; doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.1452 , 1471-2954
  • Parry, H., and Bithell, M., (2011), "Large scale agent-based modelling: a review and guidelines for model scaling." in Agent-Based Models of Geographical Systems, Heppenstall, A.J.; Crooks, A.T.; See, L.M.; Batty, M. (Eds.), Springer, 759 p. ISBN 978-90-481-8926-7
  • Bithell, M., and Brasington, J., (2009), "Coupling agent-based models of subsistence farming with individual-based forest models and dynamic models of water distribution", Environmental Modelling and Software, 24, 173-190. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2008.06.016
  • Bithell, M., Brasington, J., and Richards, K.S., (2008), "Discrete-element, individual-based and agent-based models: tools for interdisciplinary enquiry in geography?", Geoforum, 39,625-642. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2006.10.014
  • Bithell, M., and Macmillan, W., (2007). "Escape from the cell: spatial modelling with and without grids". Ecological Modelling, 200, 59-78. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.07.031
  • Bharwani,S., Bithell, M., Downing, T.E., New, M., Washington, R.,and Ziervogel, G., (2005), "Multi-Agent Modelling of Climate Outlooks and Food Security on a community Garden Scheme in Limpopo, South Africa", Phil Trans. Roy. Soc. Ser. B, 360, 2183-2194. doi:10.1098/rstb.2005.1742
  • Ziervogel,G., Bithell,M. Washington, R. and Downing, T., 2005, "Agent-based social simulation: a method for assessing the impact of seasonal climate forecast applications among smallholder farmers", Agricultural Systems 83, 1-26. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2004.02.009
  • Richards, K, Bithell, M, Dove, M and Hodge, R (2004) "Discrete element modelling: methods and applications in the environmental sciences." Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London, Ser A 362, 1-20. doi:10.1098/rsta.2004.1429
  • Richards, K, Bithell, M, and Bravo, M (2004) "Space, time and science: towards a geographical philosophy." In: Common Heritage, Shared Future: Perspectives on the Unity of Geography; eds Matthews, JA and Herbert, D T, London, Routledge