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:

Using Agent-Based Models

5.1 Planning an Agent-Based Modeling Project

As with any research project, it is helpful to plan a simulation project step by step in advance. Then you can be more confident that what you plan is likely to be achievable, and you can take remedial action if it becomes clear that you are falling behind schedule. Although most simulation projects are not different in their essentials from projects using other styles of research, there are some special features that need attention.

  • Do not underestimate how long it takes. It is tempting to think only about the time spent writing the code, but it often takes as long to design a model as to code it, and frequently longer to debug a program than to ...
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