Simulating Social Complexity

A Handbook

  • Bruce Edmonds
  • Ruth Meyer

Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Introductory Material

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Bruce Edmonds, Ruth Meyer
      Pages 3-11
    3. Klaus G. Troitzsch
      Pages 13-21
    4. Paul Davidsson, Harko Verhagen
      Pages 23-36
  3. Methodology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 37-37
    2. Emma Norling, Bruce Edmonds, Ruth Meyer
      Pages 39-55
    3. Catholijn M. Jonker, Jan Treur
      Pages 57-94
    4. José M. Galán, Luis R. Izquierdo, Segismundo S. Izquierdo, José I. Santos, Ricardo del Olmo, Adolfo López-Paredes
      Pages 95-116
    5. Volker Grimm, Gary Polhill, Julia Touza
      Pages 117-133
    6. Nuno David
      Pages 135-171
    7. Andrew Evans, Alison Heppenstall, Mark Birkin
      Pages 173-195
    8. Olivier Barreteau, Pieter Bots, Katherine Daniell, Michel Etienne, Pascal Perez, Cécile Barnaud et al.
      Pages 197-234
    9. Luis R. Izquierdo, Segismundo S. Izquierdo, José M. Galán, José I. Santos
      Pages 235-271
  4. Mechanisms

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 291-291
    2. Guido Fioretti
      Pages 293-334
    3. Martin Neumann
      Pages 335-364
    4. Francesca Giardini, Rosaria Conte, Mario Paolucci
      Pages 365-399
    5. Frédéric Amblard, Walter Quattrociocchi
      Pages 401-430
    6. Michael W. Macy, Stephen Benard, Andreas Flache
      Pages 431-453
    7. Edmund Chattoe-Brown, Bruce Edmonds
      Pages 455-495
  5. Applications

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 497-497
    2. Christophe Le Page, Didier Bazile, Nicolas Becu, Pierre Bommel, François Bousquet, Michel Etienne et al.
      Pages 499-540
    3. Virginia Dignum
      Pages 541-562
    4. David Hales
      Pages 563-580
    5. Charlotte Hemelrijk
      Pages 581-615
    6. Linda Ramstedt, Johanna Törnquist Krasemann, Paul Davidsson
      Pages 651-665
    7. Bruce Edmonds, Pablo Lucas, Juliette Rouchier, Richard Taylor
      Pages 709-748
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 749-754

About this book


Social systems are among the most complex known. This poses particular problems for those who wish to understand them. The complexity often makes analytic approaches infeasible and natural language approaches inadequate for relating intricate cause and effect. However, individual- and agent-based computational approaches hold out the possibility of new and deeper understanding of such systems.

 Simulating Social Complexity examines all aspects of using agent- or individual-based simulation. This approach represents systems as individual elements having each their own set of differing states and internal processes. The interactions between elements in the simulation represent interactions in the target systems. What makes these elements "social" is that they are usefully interpretable as interacting elements of an observed society. In this, the focus is on human society, but can be extended to include social animals or artificial agents where such work enhances our understanding of human society.

 The phenomena of interest then result (emerge) from the dynamics of the interaction of social actors in an essential way and are usually not easily simplifiable by, for example, considering only representative actors.

 The introduction of accessible agent-based modelling allows the representation of social complexity in a more natural and direct manner than previous techniques. In particular, it is no longer necessary to distort a model with the introduction of overly strong assumptions simply in order to obtain analytic tractability. This makes agent-based modelling relatively accessible to a range of scientists. The outcomes of such models can be displayed and animated in ways that also make them more interpretable by experts and stakeholders.

 This handbook is intended to help in the process of maturation of this new field. It brings together, through the collaborative effort of many leading researchers, summaries of the best thinking and practice in this area and constitutes a reference point for standards against which future methodological advances are judged.

 This book will help those entering into the field to avoid "reinventing the wheel" each time, but it will also help those already in the field by providing accessible overviews of current thought. The material is divided into four sections: Introductory, Methodology, Mechanisms, and Applications. Each chapter starts with a very brief section called ‘Why read this chapter?’ followed by an abstract, which summarizes the content of the chapter. Each chapter also ends with a section of ‘Further Reading’ briefly describing three to eight items that a newcomer might read next.



agent-based modelling communication networks social complexity social simulation

Editors and affiliations

  • Bruce Edmonds
    • 1
  • Ruth Meyer
    • 2
  1. 1.CPM - Centre for Policy ModellingManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUnited Kingdom
  2. 2., Center for Policy ModellingManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information