Agent-based Modelling

This page focuses on agent-based modelling. Agent-based models are computer programs composed of autonomous agents that are diverse and interact with one another and their environment. The program is simulated over time, exploring how the microlevel actions and interactions of many agents give rise to macrolevel patterns and dynamics. The content on this page discusses the application of agent-based models to exploring emergent social-ecological systems (SES) outcomes and dynamics, policy assessment, the assessment of response of SES to environmental or social change, explaining emergent SES phenomena, and as boundary objects in participatory processes.

The Chapter summary video gives a brief introduction and summary of this group of methods, what SES problems/questions they are useful for, and key resources needed to conduct the methods. The methods video/s introduce specific methods, including their origin and broad purpose, what SES problems/questions the specific method is useful for, examples of the method in use and key resources needed. The Case Studies demonstrate the method in action in more detail, including an introduction to the context and issue, how the method was used, the outcomes of the process and the challenges of implementing the method. The labs/activities give an example of a teaching activity relating to this group of methods, including the objectives of the activity, resources needed, steps to follow and outcomes/evaluation options.

More details can be found in Chapter 28 of the Routledge Handbook of Research Methods for Social-Ecological Systems.

Chapter summary:

This video introduces the concept of Agent-based Modelling.

Method Summaries

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Case Studies

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Lab teaching/ activity

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Key Publications related to Agent-based Modelling:
  • Crooks, A., A. Heppenstall, and N. Malleson. 2018. ‘Agent-based Modeling.’ In Comprehensive Geographic Information Systems, edited by B. Huang, 218–243. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Gilbert, G.N. 2008. Agent-based Models. Thousand Oaks: Sage
  • Heckbert, S., T. Baynes, and A. Reeson. 2010. ‘Agent-based Modeling in Ecological Economics.’ Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1185(1): 39 –53. doi:10.1111/j.1749- 6632.20 09.05286.x.
  • Janssen, M. 2020. Introduction to Agent-based Modeling.
  • Railsback, S.F., and V. Grimm. 2012. Agent-based and Individual-based Modeling – A Practical Introduction. Princeton: Princeton University Press.