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Agent-Based Modeling in the Social Sciences with the Wolfram Programming Language

Richard J. Gaylord
Organization: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department: Department of Material Science and Engineering

Wolfram Technology Conference 2013
Conference location

Champaign, Illinois, USA

"Can you imagine how hard physics would be if electrons had feelings? - Richard P. Feynman

It is ironic that the social sciences are often derisively referred to as the 'soft' sciences when in fact, doing theory in social science is far more difficult than doing theory in any of the 'hard' sciences. One of the reasons for this is that a theory of social and/or economic phenomena can't fall back on the relatively easy use of equations but must instead, make use of computation and simulation by computer (reasons for this are discussed in NKS). The primary computer programming environments presently being used for social science simulation, such as NetLogo and cellular automata, employ an underlying grid which explicitly instantiates the use of 'spatial neighborhoods' that might not be appropriate (e.g. in a system of individuals and social networks and the Internet where 'social distance' is more relevant that 'spatial distance'). I will demonstrate both the immense power and the extraordinary ease with which the Wolfram Programming Language (WL) can be used to model social and economic behaviors in such systems of interacting individuals without having to resort to using the artifact of a spatial grid structure (a full tutorial on WL, containing all of code presented here, is available in the Wolfram Library Archive).

*Wolfram Technology
Related items

*Wolfram Programming Language Fundamentals   [in MathSource: Packages and Programs]

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ABM_lecture.nb (11 MB) - Mathematica Notebook