Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.09.006
Title (Primary) Simple or complicated agent-based models? A complicated issue
Author Sun, Z.; Lorscheid, I.; Millington, J.D.; Lauf, S.; Magliocca, N.R.; Groeneveld, J.; Balbi, S.; Nolzen, H.; Müller, B.; Schulze, J.; Buchmann, C.M.
Journal Environmental Modelling & Software
Year 2016
Department CLE; OESA
Volume 86
Page From 56
Page To 67
Language englisch
Keywords Empirically grounded models; Pattern-oriented modelling; Stepwise approach; Complexity; Model complicatedness
UFZ wide themes RU5
Abstract Agent-based models (ABMs) are increasingly recognized as valuable tools in modelling human-environmental systems, but challenges and critics remain. One pressing challenge in the era of “Big Data” and given the flexibility of representation afforded by ABMs, is identifying the appropriate level of complicatedness in model structure for representing and investigating complex real-world systems. In this paper, we differentiate the concepts of complexity (model behaviour) and complicatedness (model structure), and illustrate the non-linear relationship between them. We then systematically evaluate the trade-offs between simple (often theoretical) models and complicated (often empirically-grounded) models. We propose using pattern-oriented modelling, stepwise approaches, and modular design to guide modellers in reaching an appropriate level of model complicatedness. While ABMs should be constructed as simple as possible but as complicated as necessary to address the predefined research questions, we also warn modellers of the pitfalls and risks of building “mid-level” models mixing stylized and empirical components.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Sun, Z., Lorscheid, I., Millington, J.D., Lauf, S., Magliocca, N.R., Groeneveld, J., Balbi, S., Nolzen, H., Müller, B., Schulze, J., Buchmann, C.M. (2016):
Simple or complicated agent-based models? A complicated issue
Environ. Modell. Softw. 86 , 56 - 67