CoMSES Net Discourse Forums

Improving ABM Bibliography

Dear Comsees (and apologies to those who are also on the simsoc list),

A while back I was asked to contribute to the Oxford Bibliographies about ABM. For various “domestic” reasons I was not able to get as much “community input” as I wanted. However, I have now been asked to revise the contribution and this seemed like a good moment. I hope the existing version can be accessed here:

Let me know if there are any problems with access.

Apart from general criticisms and comments, I would be very glad to receive evidenced suggestions regarding why things should be added/deleted or differently evaluated (bearing in mind that there will be an overall word limit). Ungrounded suggestions for self-citation (or other merely personal opinions) will obviously be treated with caution!

All the best,

Edmund Chattoe-Brown (School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester, UK)

PS Does anybody know of any other reasonable active ABM distribution lists (US? Japan? ROW?) to which I could post this request?


I believe this bibliography will be an extremely valuable resource for Agent-Based Modeling. I enjoyed it very much - and I hope this feedback is not arriving too late to be useful. I do have some comments.

My disciplinary home is in a psychology department and, in approaching ABM, I have looked to many other disciplines to inform my work. I found there was a great deal of methodological and theoretical development occurring in the ecology literature - in addition to sociology. You mentioned Grimm and Railsback’s textbook - but I think there are two important contributions from their work (particularly their 2015 book) worth highlighting:

  • The ODD protocol, which is the most coherent framework I’ve yet found for describing models
  • Pattern Oriented Modeling and its effort to address the question of Strong Inference

A theoretical contrast I’ve frequently encountered comes from the economics literature, with its emphasis on simultaneous functions and equilibria. I see ABM as a very powerful alternative that nevertheless addresses a similar body of questioning. In my own work, I use economic models, built from formal mathematical functions, as a sort of straw man to catapult away from - but I think this establishes a context for ABMs that invites participation from a different discipline.

In several places, you highlight the sociological perspective but, as I mentioned, I am applying ABMs in the domain of psychology. And, as I mentioned, I have found a great deal of theoretical development coming from ecology. The bibliography certainly does not suffer from the emphasis on sociology - but I am dwelling on this point simply in pursuit of a larger disciplinary “tent” that covers the work.

I look forward to the publication of this bibliography. I will absolutely reference it when offering tutorials, in the future.

Best regards,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful contribution.

Do you have any thoughts on applications of Judea Pearl’s causal inference framework to ABMs? I’ve been reading through the Book of Why and there seem to be interesting possibilities for ABM analysis and interpretation there that I haven’t fully gelled in my head yet. The more technical volume would be Causality.