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Simulates a Token Exchange System (TES, a token--dollar local economy)

Project description

Author: John C. Boik
Version: 0.1.0 of May, 2014


This document is a users guide for the python package TES-simulation, which simulates a Token Exchange System (TES), a type of complementary currency system that is described in the book Economic Direct Democracy.[JCB14] The local electronic currency is called the token. Together with the dollar, it defines a local token–dollar economy. A Local Economic Direct Democracy Association (LEDDA)—a membership-based, community-benefit corporation—implements a TES.

The simulation tracks the flows of tokens and dollars in a U.S. county economy over a period of years, in annual steps. To understand the package, one should read “First Microsimulation Model of a LEDDA Community Currency–Dollar Economy,” by John Boik, available as a working paper from the IDEAS repository.[JCB14b] The paper was submitted in 2014 to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. This Users Guide provides information about the TES-simulation package that was not contained in the paper or the paper’s appendix.[JCB14c]

Modules and Classes

Modules for this package are listed below. Each module describes a single class.

  1. Module Class_CBFS describes the CBFS class.
  2. Module Class_County describes the COUNTY class.
  3. Module Class_Gov describes the GOVERNMENT class.
  4. Module Class_Ledda describes the LEDDA class.
  5. Module Class_Org describes the ORGANIZATIONS class.
  6. Module Class_Persons describes the PERSONS class.
  7. Module Class_Roc describes the ROC (Rest-of-Counties) class.
  8. Module Config holds configuration information and serves as a common container for data objects.
  9. Module InitializeFx holds functions that initialize objects at the start of the simulation.
  10. Module MiscFx holds miscellaneous functions. Most of these are graphing and printing functions.
  11. Module Debug holds a function that starts pdb (python debugger) when an exception is raised and not otherwise caught. It is a useful aid during code development. Import of this module can be commented out from all package files, if desired.

The main script is


TES-simulation requires python and the following python packages: numpy, scipy, pytables, and pylab. To make animated gifs, the python library wand is required (it is a binding for the ImageMagick library).

TES-simulation is tested on a Linux operating system using:

  • ubuntu 13.04 (raring)
  • python 2.7.4
  • numpy
  • scipy
  • pytables 3.0.0
  • wand 0.3.5

While TES-simulation can be installed via pip, use of pip install TES-simulation does not install the requirements. It is assumed that they are already installed in your system python environment. Numerous tutorials are available on the Web if you need to install these packages.


The recommended location for installation of this package is a virtual environment. These instructions pertain to a Linux operating system. Some adjustments might be necessary for the Windows operating system.

  1. If your system does not already have virtualenv, install it using: sudo pip install virtualenv
  2. Change directory to your chosen working directory, for example, ./home/myname/mysimulation .
  3. Open a terminal window, if one is not already open. To create a new virtual environment, type: virtualenv --system-site-packages env . Here, the virtual environment is called env . It is located in the working directory. Run with the --no-site-packages flag if you do not want to use packages that are installed in your system python environment. In this case, you would have to install numpy, scipy, pytables, pylab, and wand packages in the virtual environment. Doing so for pylab can be tricky.
  4. Activate the virtual environment: source env/bin/activate .
  5. Install TES-simulation in the virtual environment: pip install TES-simulation

To deactivate the virtual environment, type: deactivate ; to remove it entirely, deactivate it and then type: rm -rf env .

How to Run a Simulation

The four steps to run a simulation are:

  1. Open a terminal window and change directory into your working directory (see previous). You may need to edit the configuration file ( before running a simulation. This file, and other package files, will be located in, for example, ./env/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/tes-simulation/ . Set a population size for Config.adult_county_population, set a results folder name for Config.results_folder_name, and set any other parameters as desired.
  2. Set Config.create_new_HDF5=True in order to create a new “master” pytables file (LEDDA_simulation_master.hdf5) in the results folder that holds income and other data for individuals and families. If you change the population size, you will need to set this flag to True again to create a new master pytables file. After setting the flag, run by typing: python ./env/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/tes-simulation/ (or use a different path to , if appropriate). If there is an error during runtime, the Python debugger will start. To exit the debugger, type: q . Answer Y to question about overwriting files. A log of results is saved in the ./HDF5_log.txt file in the results folder.
  3. Set Config.create_new_HDF5=False, and set Config.preliminary_graphs_Option_1=True. Run as noted in Step 2. Answer Y to question about overwriting files. This will create some preliminary graphs and printout, which you should check. See Initialize.examineOption1() for more information. The screen results from Initialize.examineOption1() will provide suggested values for some parameters contained in the file. Results will be saved to the results folder. A log of results is saved in the ./Opt1_log.txt file in the results folder. Graphs are saved in ./figs/Option_1/ of the results folder.
  4. Set Config.preliminary_graphs_Option_1=False, and change other parameters in as suggested or as desired. After setting all parameters, run the simulation as noted in Step 2. The simulation will now run for as many years as specified in Config.simulation_period . Results will be saved to the results folder. A new “current” HDF5 file (LEDDA_simulation_current.hdf5) will be created in ./data/ in the results folder, based on information in the master HDF5 file. The master HDF5 will not be overwritten with each new simulation run (unless the flag to create a new file is set to True), but the current HDF5 table will be overwritten. A log of results is saved in the ./data/general_log.txt file in the results folder.

Example results for a population of size 10,000 can be viewed in the package’s examples folder. The results used in the submitted paper are available from the author on request.

If you need to run a saved simulation for additional years, set Config.simulation_period using a higher number and then set Config.start_simulation_year to the year you wish to begin the continued simulation. You might want to save a copy of your current results folder prior to running the continued simulation, just in case something goes wrong. Note that the Year shown in the graphs is not the same as the Year used in the simulation; the former is calculated as Year - Config.burn_in_period + 1.

For information on acronyms, parameters, and variables, see the docstring of each class (module). This information will be helpful for understanding the labels on graphs, for example.


[JCB14]John C. Boik. Economic Direct Democracy: A Framework to End Poverty and Maximize Well-Being. SiteForChange: Houston; 2014. URL:
[JCB14b]John C. Boik. First Microsimulation Model of a LEDDA Community Currency–Dollar Economy. Working Paper 0001, Principled Societies Project. 2014. URL:
[JCB14c]John C. Boik. Appendix to “First Microsimulation Model of a LEDDA Community Currency–Dollar Economy”. Working Paper 0002, Principled Societies Project. 2014. URL:

0.1.0 (May, 2014)

  • Initial release.

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