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Timothy A. Kohler & George J. Gumerman: Dynamics in Human and Primate Societies: Agent-Based Modeling of Social and Spatial Processes

Dynamics in Human and Primate Societies: Agent-Based Modeling of Social and Spatial Processes is a book of articles edited by Timothy Kohler and George Gumerman. Drawing upon complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory, and focusing upon primate and simple human societies, these diverse and insightful studies expand the horizon of agent simulation research.

Attempts to distinguish scholarly periods can be imprecise and arbitrary, yet they can also help identify and characterise progress in a field of study. This collection represents a significant contribution to the agent simulation research program and, in fact, might be regarded as an exemplar of a third stage of agent simulation studies.

The early work of Schelling, Maynard Smithand Axelrod provided a first wave of exemplars demonstrating the potential of a new approach to social simulation research. A new generation of agent simulation research, including Epstein and Axtell , Axelrod and Young , provided a second wave of exemplars. They respectively illustrate, inter alia:

  1. how agent simulation can be applied to an interactive variety of social processes
  2. the range of social topics that can be addressed using simulation based on simple agents
  3. the emergence of social institutions and structure from agent strategies

From the standpoint of standard periodisation, it seems premature to identify a new stage in agent simulation research. However, considering the substantive contributions made by these studies, a new level of sophistication is introduced into agent modelling. In particular, a number of chapters in this collection serve as exemplars in the area of empirically grounded agent simulation, investigations that stand in visible contrast to the study of abstract social processes.

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