Challenges in identifying simple pattern-forming mechanisms in the development of settlements using demographic data

Rapid increase of population and settlement structures in the Global South motivate the development of suitable models to describe their formation. Such settlement formation has been previously suggested to be dynamically driven by simple pattern-forming mechanisms. In this work Bartosz and our collaborators from TU Darmstadt explored the use of a data-driven white-box approach, called SINDy, to discover differential equation models directly from available spatiotemporal demographic data. Even though we found that the current resolution and observation time of the available data are insufficient to uncover such mechanisms, we investigated the requirements for spatial and temporal resolution, as well as observation time, using synthetic data. For more details check out our article published in Physical Review E.