Towards Validating a Model of Households and Societies in East Africa

Conference paper
Part of the Agent-Based Social Systems book series (ABSS, volume 11)


One of the major challenges of social simulations is the validation of the models. When modeling societies, where experimentation is not practical or ethical, validation of models is inherently difficult. However, one of the significant strengths of the agent-based modeling (ABM) approach is that it begins with the implementation of a theory of behavior for relatively low-level agents and then produces high-level behaviors emerging from the low-level theory’s implementation. Our ABM model of societies is based on modeling the decision making of rural households in a 1,600 km (1,000 mile) square around Lake Victoria in East Africa. We report on the first validation of our model of households making their living on a daily basis by comparing resulting activities against societal data collected by anthropologists.


Agent-based modeling East Africa Household decision making 



This work was supported by the Center for Social Complexity at George Mason University and by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) under a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Grant no. N00014-08-1-0921. The authors thank the members of the Mason-HRAF Joint Project on Eastern Africa (MURI Team), especially Jeffrey K. Bassett, Atesmachew B. Hailegiorgis, Joseph Harrison, and Eric Scott for their comments and discussions. Carol Ember, Ian Skoggard, and Teferi Abate of HRAF provided assistance with the anthropological data. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this work are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

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