Major societal and environmental challenges require forecasting how natural processes and human activities affect one another. Model integration across natural and social science disciplines to study these problems requires resolving semantic, spatio-temporal, and execution mismatches, which are largely done by hand today and may take more than two years of human effort.

We are developing the Model INTegration (MINT) framework, with several innovative components: 1) New principle-based semi-automatic ontology generation tools for modeling variables, used to describe models and data; 2) New modeling methodologies to facilitate semantic integration across domains; 3) A novel workflow system that selects relevant models from a curated registry and uses abductive reasoning to hypothesize new models and data transformation steps; 4) A new data discovery and integration framework that finds and categorizes new sources of data, learns to extract information from both online sources and remote sensing data, and transforms the data into the format required by the models; 5) New knowledge-guided machine learning algorithms for model parameterization to improve accuracy and estimate uncertainty; 6) A novel framework for multi-modal scalable workflow execution.

Overview of the MINT architectural components.

Tasks Overview



Diagram representing external forcing factors and databases needed to drive the Cycles model or a Random Forest model. The components "Cycles", "Random Forest" and the associated databases will be integrated in the MINT framework for seamless operation alongside other modeling components.

The MINT project team will address primarily food production under changing scenarios, changes in the water cycle due to external forcing such as climate or market changes, and internal changes such as changes in food and water demand due to land use change including urban growth and purchasing power. Food production will be predicted based on process-based models (model Cycles) that are able to use daily or sub-daily climate information, and machine learning (Random Forest). The Cycles model is an evolution of C-Farm [1] and shares many modules with CropSyst [2]. The Cycles model simulates yield and environmental impacts of food production based on fundamental biophysical principles that control plant growth, water and nutrient cycling. Its modular structure, transparent input and output structure, documentation in Github, and power to model any crop and crop rotation make the Cycles model an ideal component for integration in a modeling workflow alongside other models. Unlike process based models, machine learning algorithms can predict single indicators faster and using multiple sources of information, regardless of the specific mechanistic connection between predictor and predicted variable. They can be particularly powerful to predict crop production [3].

Task Leaders

Dr. Kemanian has background in agroecology, systems modeling, and several disciplines central to agricultural and natural systems. He developed the Cycles model, components of the CropSyst model, and made contributions to the SWAT model and associated models EPIC and APEX. He is currently using the PIHM and Hydroterre platform, migrating to fully distributed models to represent terrestrial and aquatic processes. These models have been used in numerous projects of local, national and international reach.

  1. Kemanian, A.R. and Stöckle, C.O., 2010. C-Farm: A simple model to evaluate the carbon balance of soil profiles. European Journal of Agronomy, 32(1), pp.22-29.
  2. Stöckle, C.O., Kemanian, A.R., Nelson, R.L., Adam, J.C., Sommer, R. and Carlson, B., 2014. CropSyst model evolution: From field to regional to global scales and from research to decision support systems. Environmental Modelling & Software, 62, pp.361-369.
  3. Hoffman, A.L., Kemanian, A.R. and Forest, C.E., 2018. Analysis of climate signals in the crop yield record of sub‐Saharan Africa. Global Change Biology, 24(1), pp.143-157.

Model Calibration

Data Extraction and Integration

Workflow Composition

Task Leaders

Dr. Gil is a Director of Knowledge Technologies and lead the Interactive Knowledge Capture research group at USC's Information Sciences Institute (ISI). Her research focuses on intelligent interfaces for knowledge capture, which is a central topic in our projects concerning knowledge-based planning and problem solving, information analysis and assessment of trust, semantic annotation tools, agent and software choreography, and community-wide development of knowledge bases. A recent focus is assisting scientists with intelligent systems that analyze data, test hypotheses, and make new discoveries.

Workflow Execution

Overview of the architectural components and interaction for running coupled models.

Workflows process scientific large-scale computations in distributed systems. A key advantage of workflows is their ability to combine different specialized software. Typically, they are described as directed-acyclic graphs (DAGs), where the outputs of a job (a node in the graph) are input for subsequent jobs. This paradigm fits model chaining workflows, where each model runs once and its output is input for successor models. The MINT team will capitalize on our Pegasus [1] workflow system to enable scalable workflow execution in computing environments. Although DAGs are proven efficient for most scientific computations, they are insufficient to handle coupled models – concurrent execution of models with continuous data exchanges. We will leverage our prior work on the CSDMS Basic Model Interface (BMI) that provides standardized, noninvasive, and framework-independent API for models [3]. BMI is easy to implement and yet provides all information needed to deploy a model in multiple model coupling frameworks.

Task Leaders

Dr. Deelman is a Research Professor at the USC Computer Science Department and a Research Director at the USC Information Sciences Institute. Dr. Deelman’s research interests include the design and exploration of collaborative, distributed scientific environments, with particular emphasis on workflow management as well as the management of large amounts of data and metadata. At ISI, Dr. Deelman is leading the Pegasus project, which designs and implements workflow mapping techniques for large-scale applications running in distributed environments. Pegasus is being used today in a number of scientific disciplines, enabling researches to formulate complex computations in a declarative way. Dr. Deelman received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1997. Her thesis topic was in the area of parallel discrete event simulation, where she applied parallel programming techniques to the simulation of the spread of Lyme disease in nature.

Dr. Ferreira da Silva is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at University of Southern California, and a Computer Scientist in the Science Automation Technologies group at the USC Information Sciences Institute. His research focuses on the efficient execution of scientific workflows on heterogeneous distributed systems (e.g., clouds, grids, and supercomputers), computational reproducibility, and Data Science workflow performance analysis, user behavior in HPC/HTC, and citation analysis (for publications). Dr. Ferreira da Silva received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from INSA Lyon, France, in 2013. He authored more than 60 research papers in the are of distributed computing, in particular high performance computing and workflows.

  1. Deelman, E., et al. "Pegasus, a workflow management system for science automation." Future Generation Computer Systems 46 (2015): 17-35.
  2. Peckham, Scott D., Eric WH Hutton, and Boyana Norris. "A component-based approach to integrated modeling in the geosciences: The design of CSDMS." Computers & Geosciences 53 (2013): 3-12.