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Open-source software by CASCADE

CASCADE (Calibrated Agent Simulations for Combined Analysis of Drinking Etiologies)

MBSSM hands-on tutorial Public repositories

About the CASCADE project

CASCADE (Calibrated Agent Simulations for Combined Analysis of Drinking Etiologies) is a major alcohol policy modelling project funded by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 2016-2021:

This project is an international collaboration between researchers at four world-leading centres in alcohol studies and policy modelling:

  • the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield, UK
  • the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute in California
  • the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto
  • the New York University School of Global Public Health.

Alcohol poisoning and liver disease are two of the largest causes of death in middle-aged people in the US, and both are strongly related to excessive alcohol consumption.

CASCADE has developed new computer models of alcohol use which draw on existing theories for why people drink, and is seeking novel combinations of these theories in order to better explain the changes in alcohol use we observe in society.

These models are designed to provide transparency over the causal relationships that are driving alcohol use and consequent levels of alcohol poisoning and liver disease.

They will also provide projections for how the levels of these harms might change under different possible futures, both with and without policy interventions.

In order to be able to represent different theories in a way that enables them to be compared and integrated together, we developed a unified architecture for representing social theories in simulation models: the mechanism-based social systems modelling (MBSSM) architecture.

Since we are developing empirically-based simulations for a US context, we need to work with a representative US population in our models. For harms like liver cirrhosis for which risk accrues over many years of drinking, we need this representation to be realistic over multiple decades. So we developed a realistic full-scale population that is representative of the US from the 1980s to the present: CASCADEPOP.

All of the source code for MBSSM, CASCADEPOP, and all of the individual models we have developed are available here.


For more information about the CASCADE project, please don’t hesitate to contact the project’s principal investigator Prof. Robin Purshouse:


CASCADE’s source code is licensed for use under the GNU GPL version 3.