Simulation for the Social Scientist

By Nigel Gilbert; Klaus G. Troitzsch | Go to book overview

Preface

This book is a practical guide to the exploration and understanding of social and economic issues through simulation. It explains why one might use simulation in the social sciences and outlines a number of approaches to social simulation at a level of detail that should enable readers to understand the literature and to develop their own simulations.

Interest in social simulation has been growing rapidly world-wide, mainly as a result of the increasing availability of powerful personal computers. The field has also been much influenced by developments in the theory of cellular automata (from physics and mathematics) and in computer science (distributed artificial intelligence and agent technology). These have provided tools readily applicable to social simulation. Although the book is aimed primarily at scholars and postgraduates in the social sciences, it may also be of interest to computer scientists and to hobbyists with an interest in the topic. We assume an elementary knowledge of programming (for example, experience of writing simple programs in Basic) and some knowledge of the social and economic sciences.

The impetus for the book stems from our own research and the worldwide interest in simulation demonstrated by, for instance, the series of conferences on Simulating Societies held since 1992. The proceedings of the first two of these have been published as Simulating Societies (Gilbert and Doran 1994) and Artificial Societies (Gilbert and Conte 1995) and subsequent papers have appeared in the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation.

Since we wrote the first edition of this book in 1997–8, interest in social

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