Computational Social Science and Agent Based Models (32 hours)

Teachers: Mario Paolucci (CNR), Federico Cecconi (CNR), Nicolas Payette (CNR)

In the last decade we have witnessed the birth and rapid growth of Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, iPhones, Wi-Fi, YouTube, Twitter, and numerous other marvels of the digital age. In addition to changing the way we live, these tools—and the technological revolution they are a part of—have fundamentally changed the way that we can learn about the social world. We can now collect data about human behavior on a scale never before possible and with tremendous granularity and precision. The ability to collect and process “big data” enables researchers to address core questions in the social sciences in new ways and opens up new areas of inquiry.

This course on computational social science will emphasize social science rather than computation. We will focus on how traditional concepts of research design in the social sciences can inform our understanding of new data sources, and how these new data sources might require us to update our thinking on research design.

Agent based model

This section will explore how to use agent-based modeling to understand and examine a widely diverse and disparate set of complex problems. During the course, we will explore why agent-based modeling is a powerful new way to understand complex systems, what kinds of systems are amenable to complex systems analysis, and how agent-based modeling has been used in the past to study everything from economics to biology to political science to business and management.

Netlogo environment

We introduce participants to NetLogo, a development environment and a domain specific computer language for agent-based modelling. In lectures, we explain techniques to develop, analyse, test and document agent-based simulation models. Hands on session will familiarise participants with the concepts: in small groups they will develop, implement and analyse an agent-based model to answer an ecological or socio-ecological question. Our intention is that after the course the participants are able to implement and analyse simple models in NetLogo.

Agent based model in economy

Agent-based models are used in economic framework. During the course a series of applications are illustrated: (1) the realization with heterogeneous agents of an exchange economy, with labor market, capital market, goods market; (2) study of a distribution logistics structure with optimization problems and constraints in use; (3) a model for managing an auction on various assets, with heterogeneous agents and budget constraints.