Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Interesting Articles

Going through my RSS feeds I came across three articles which are quite interesting and I thought worth sharing.

The first is "Design Guidelines for Agent Based Model Visualization" by Kornhauser et. al., (2009) which discusses the importance of visualizing agent-based models. Specifically the importance of visualization in identifying, communicating and understanding the behaviour of the modelled phenomenon. In this article Kornhauser et. al. (2009) comment that many agent-based modellers create ineffective visualizations of their models. This paper provides ABM visualization design guidelines in order to improve visual design with ABM toolkits

The images to the above and below are examples from the article about are clear and aesthetic visualizations from the NetLogo model library.

The second article entitled 'Tools of the Trade: A Survey of Various Agent Based Modeling Platforms' by Nikolai and Madey (2009), which offers advice for choosing the appropriate agent-based platform for a specific modelling endeavour. The paper references and extends our own work at CASA "Principles and Concepts of Agent-Based Modelling for Developing Geospatial Simulations." Specifically the paper reviews a number of toolkits and characterize each based on 5 characteristics users might consider when choosing a toolkit (e.g. programming language , type of license, operating system, domain, user support), and then we categorize the characteristics into user-friendly taxonomies that aid in rapid indexing and easy reference.

The authors have also developed a web-based tool that incorporates all their findings, users input a range of characteristics, and the tool returns a list of candidate platforms that contain those characteristics (such as operating system). The tool is available at Furthermore, Nikolai and Madey (2009), have created a wiki page entitled "ABM Software Comparison," and it is linked from the main "Agent Based Model" post on Wikipedia which anyone can alter or expand.

The third paper by Heikkila and Wang, which is in press in Environment and Planning B, entitled "Fujita and Ogawa revisited: an agent-based modeling approach" which builds on and extends the work of Masahisa Fujita and Hideaki Ogawa in 1982. The authors employ an ABM approach that seeks to replicate the individual household and firm behaviours that lead to equilibrium or nonequilibrium outcomes but more specifically addresses questions of path dependency and bounded rationality that lie well beyond the scope of the original work of Fujita and Ogawa (1982).

On a side note there appears to be two interesting courses for agent-based modelling this summer. The first is the Lipari International School on Computational Social Sciences, July 18 - 25. The second is Capturing Business Complexity with Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation, May 18- 22, 2009.


Fujita, M. and Ogawa, H. (1982), 'Multiple Equilibria and Structural Transition of Non-monocentric Urban Configurations', Regional Science and Urban Economics, 12(2): 161-196.

Heikkila, E.G. and Wang, Y. (In Press), 'Fujita and Ogawa Revisited: An Agent-Based Modeling Approach', Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design.

Kornhauser, D., Wilensky, U. and Rand, D. (2009), 'Design Guidelines for Agent Based Model Visualization', Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 12(2), Available at

Nikolai, C. and Madey, G. (2009), 'Tools of the Trade: A Survey of Various Agent Based Modeling Platforms', Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 12(2), Available at

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