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Agent-Based Modeling Programs

More on NetLogo

Having downloaded NetLogo and played around with it for a while, I am unsure whether it will meet the needs of our modeling project.

  • NetLogo is particularly aimed at modeling systems as they adapt over time. Agents in NetLogo continuously respond to each other's decisions, resulting in an ever-changing environment. To a great extent, we are interested in modeling a system that will develop over time: at a farmers' market, for example, a seller makes a decision (setting up a vendor station), a buyer makes a decision motivated by the seller's decision (walking over to the vendor station), then another decision (whether or not to buy from the this particular vendor), etc. For these types of interactions, it is crucial to have a simulation program that effectively displays change over time in the system, showing how decisions by each agent impacts each following decision by other agents.

Directory of agent-based modeling links

Located here is a directory of links to applications of agent-based modeling, arranged by subject area. Of greatest importance to us is the economics section, which includes such projects as "artificial life simulation of the textile/apparel market," and "agent based simulation of the hotelling game." The page is put together by Craig Reynolds.

Some articles on agent-based simulation

Just to update on some of the work I've been doing, here and here are links to a couple articles I've read about agent-based simulation that I did not find worthy of individual write-ups as they are not particularly useful to our project. The first article, by Robert Axelrod, presents a walk-through for those who plan to begin an agent-based simulation project, but does not really advance any new ideas for us.

Conceptual Model for the Canadian Food and Nutrition System

Located here "Conceptual Model for the Canadian Food and Nutrition System," used by Health Canada. This model is more complex than ours will be, as it takes into account five levels of food use: food supply, distribution, consumption, utilization, and health outcome. Our model will certainly elminate the last two, as it will not incorporate the health aspects of the food we eat to that extent.

A few more agent-based simulation platforms

Moduleco is a "modular "multi-agent" platform, designed for to simulate markets and organizations, social phenomenons and population dynamics."

In addition to being a resource for agent-based modeling information, SwarmWiki is the home of Swarm, one of the original agent-based simulation programs. Swarm is a "multi-agent software platform for the simulation of complex adaptive systems. In the Swarm system the basic unit of simulation is the swarm, a collection of agents executing a schedule of actions. Swarm supports hierarchical modeling approaches whereby agents can be composed of swarms of other agents in nested structures. Swarm provides object oriented libraries of reusable components for building models and analyzing, displaying, and controlling experiments on those models." An in-depth description of Swarm can be found here


Given the positive reviews of the agent-based modeling platform NetLogo contained in the article "Agent-Based Simulation Platforms: Review and Development Recommendations" (see my earlier blog about this article), it is worthwhile to add a direct link to NetLogo. From this page, one can read about and download the program. Once downloaded, one can play around with the sample models that come along with NetLogo (more on this later).

An article comparing five agent-based simulation platforms

Here is an article entitled "Agent-based Simulation Platforms: Review and Development Recommendations," written by Steven F. Railsback, Steven L. Lytinen, and Stephen K. Jackson. This article compares five agent-based simulation platforms: NetLogo, MASON, Repast, Objective-C Swarm, and Java Swarm. The five platforms were reviewed by implementing example models in each. Some important findings from this study include:

  • "Swarm was designed as a general language and toolbox for ABMs, intended for

Two Popular Agent-Based Simulation Platforms: RePast and Ascape

RePast and Ascape appear to be the two most popular platforms for agent based modeling. Repast (Recursive Porous Agent Simulation Toolkit) was developed at the University of Chicago. It is intended primarily for use in the social sciences, and seeks to "support the development of extremely flexible models of living social agents." Models can be written in RePast using several programming languages, including Java, C#, and Python. As I know none of these languages, I was limited in my ability to experiment with RePast. Despite these limitations, however, I formed the opinion that RePast would be a suitable platform for our simulation game. It allows for the depth of interactions and behaviors, as well as the diversity of characterizations that are a necessity for our project.

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