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Me on a Kuala Lumpur rooftop

a.k.a. Dan MacKinlay

About Me

Hi there. I am freshly involved in PhD-land, looking at futures and scenario planning for mitigating climate change risk using agent-based biophysical models. Specifics will appear as soon as I know them myself!

I've recently left the software industry, where I have been working on visualisation of large government data-sets. I have degrees in both maths and human geography.

Research Interests

I'm interested in the evolution of institutions and norms in human societies, innovation diffusion, bounded rationality and the evolution of decision heuristics. I'm also intrigued by the challenges of bioeconomic sustainability, and how simulation can be used to aid in policy planning.


My Human Geography degree should have been called "transdisicplinary studies" ;) a lot of focus on integrative projects between disiplines as diverse as ecology, economics , sociology, GIS. My maths background is a mixture of pure analysis and applied scientific computation.

I have 6 years experience in professional software development in various industries, thanks to my need to pay my tuition bill. I work with various languages, python being my favourite, but I'm not precious. Test-driven development, source-code management and open-source collaboration techniques, I'm across all of those, and happy to share skills. I have some experience in high performance computation, mostly in loose-real-time systems such as web application servers. I am skilled at many strange types of data persistence from enterprise databases to high performance key-value stores.

non-academic expertise

I am a practising electronic musician with touring experience across south east asia. Come talk to me about Ableton live, Max/MSP, algorithmic sequencing, field recorders and puredata. I speak passable Indonesian. I play capoeira angola, and cook wicked vegetarian food, and write new media art criticism for the odd art magazine.


I'm interested in sensitivity analysis of complex models, and when that can be even meaningful, and alternative measures of certainty in systems characterised by surprise thresholds and multiple behavioural regimes. I'm especially intersted in both of these as they pertain to human socioeconomic systems. I'm looking to broaden my statistical knowledge as it pertains to noisy nonlinear and otherwise adaptive systems and networks. I'm hoping to meet other people involved in building interesting tools for dealing with modelling these kind of systems and hopefully contribute.

Most of all, what I'd like from the CSSS is collaboration. I'm a social thinker and compulsive collaborator. I'd like to find out about interesting projects going on that need my contribution, and find kindred spirits to bounce around ideas with.

Project Ideas

  • I'd really like to look at simulating the formation of social norms in systems made of learning agents. How are the rules of markets evolved and enforced? How do behavioural norms evolve in a society, especially with our limited capacity to observe our human beings, and out very imperfect transmission of strategy. (Illustrative case study - Elizabeth Shove's treatise on the evolution of washing and showering behaviour in the UK. Washing might sound mundane, but not in her hands. She tracks a profound change in the resource usage behaviour of a population over half a century, and has some loose adaptive agent arguments about the mechanisms of it.)
  • sleep