Agent-based simulation has become increasingly popular as a modeling approach in the social sciences because it enables researchers to build models where individual entities and their interactions are directly represented. The Second Edition of Nigel Gilbert's Agent-Based Models introduces this technique; considers a range of methodological and theoretical issues; shows how to design an agent-based model, with a simple example; offers some practical advice about developing, verifying and validating agent-based models; and finally discusses how to plan an agent-based modelling project, publish the results and apply agent-based modeling to formulate and evaluate social and economic policies. An accompanying simulation using NetLogo and commentary on the program can be downloaded on the book’s website:

Agents, Environments, And Timescales

We noted in Chapter 1 that an agent-based model consists of a set of agents acting within an environment. In this chapter, we begin by showing how agent-based models can be designed.

2.1 Agents

Agents generally have all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Perception. They can perceive their environment, possibly including the presence of other agents in their vicinity. In programming terms, this means that agents have some means of determining what objects and agents are located in their neighborhood.
  • Performance. They have a set of behaviors that they are capable of performing. Often, these include the following:
    • Motion. They can move within a space (the environment).
    • Communication. They can send messages to and receive messages from other agents.
    • Action. They can interact with the ...
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