R build status CRAN License: MIT DOI

An R package for specifying and simulating individual-based models.

This package is designed to:

  1. encourage clear and testable components for defining your individual-based models, and
  2. provide memory efficient, fast code for executing your model


The package can be installed from github using the “remotes” library


Alternatively you can install individual directly from CRAN, but be aware that the CRAN version may not be the most recent version of the package:


For development it is most convenient to run the code from source. You can install the dependencies in RStudio by opening the project and selecting “Build” > “Install and Restart”

Command line users can execute:

install_deps('.', dependencies = TRUE)

Docker users can build a minimal image with

docker build . -f docker/Dockerfile -t [your image name]

Or if you would like devtools and documentation tools you can run

docker build . -f docker/ -t [your image name]


We recommend first reading vignette("Tutorial") which describes how to simulate a simple SIR model in “individual”, and later vignette("API") which describes in detail how to use the data structures in “individual” to build more complicated models. If you are running into performance issues, learn more about how to speed up your model in vignette("Performance").

Statement of need

Individual-based models are important tools for infectious disease epidemiology, but practical use requires an implementation that is both comprehensible so that code may be maintained and adapted, and fast. “individual” is an R package which provides users a set of primitive classes using the R6 class system that define elements common to many tasks in infectious disease modeling. Using R6 classes helps ensure that methods invoked on objects are appropriate for that object type, aiding in testing and maintenance of models programmed using “individual”. Computation is carried out in C++ using Rcpp to link to R, helping achieve good performance for even complex models.

“individual” provides a unique method to specify individual-based models compared to other agent/individual-based modeling libraries, where users specify a type for agents, which are subsequently stored in an array or other data structure. In “individual”, users instead instantiate a object for each variable which describes some aspect of state, using the appropriate R6 class. Finding subsets of individuals with particular combinations of state variables for further computation can be efficiently accomplished with set operations, using a custom bitset class implemented in C++. Additionally, the software makes no assumptions on the types of models that may be simulated (e.g. mass action, network), and updates are performed on a discrete time step.

We hope our software is useful to infectious disease modellers, ecologists, and others who are interested in individual-based modeling in R.


Thank you! Please refer to the vignette on vignette("Contributing") for info on how to contribute :)


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