Simplicity and reality in computational modeling of politics


DOI: 10.1007/s10588-008-9042-2

Cite this article as:
Cioffi-Revilla, C. Comput Math Organ Theory (2009) 15: 26. doi:10.1007/s10588-008-9042-2


Modeling a polity based on viable scientific concepts and theoretical understanding has been a challenge in computational social science and social simulation in general and political science in particular. This paper presents a computational model of a polity (political system) in progressive versions from simple to more realistic. The model, called SimPol to highlight the fundamental structures and processes of politics in a generic society, is developed using the combined methodologies of object-based modeling (OOM), the Unified Modeling Language (UML), and the methodology of Lakatos’ research programs. SimPol demonstrates that computational models of entire political systems are methodologically feasible and scientifically viable; they can also build on and progress beyond previous theory and research to advance our understanding of how polities operate across a variety of domains (simple vs. complex) and levels of analysis (local, national, international). Both simple and realistic models are necessary, for theoretical and empirical purposes, respectively.


Political science Comparative political systems Policy process Systems of governance Agent-based modeling UML unified modeling language Lakatos 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Social Complexity, Krasnow Institute for Advanced StudyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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