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Introduction to agent-based modelling for social scientists

19 Jan 2022 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Social science seeks to understand and predict patterns involving human behaviour, many of which are large-scale and complex. However, social science explanations or predictions can be difficult to test and refine because of the serious ethical and practical barriers to running experiments on the real world! For example, there are many possible explanations for the complex patterns of urban mobility, but when traffic calming measures fail to produce the desired results it can be difficult to identify why or how the situation can be improved.

One possible solution is to run social science experiments 'in silico' via an agent-based model (ABM) in which simulated actors have features, behaviours and actions informed by real world data. Such ABM experiments allow social scientists to test and refine their understanding of problems and possible solutions and to explore how emergent patterns might change under alternative conditions.

This free webinar, organised by the UK Data Service, is the first in a training series on how to use agent-based models combined with real world data to address social science questions. Specifically, this webinar:

  • introduces important concepts like emergence, bottom-up processes, and more
  • presents several agent-based model examples
  • discusses the pros and cons of agent-based models
  • presents software options

Presenter: Dr J. Kasmire, UK Data Service

Level: Absolute beginner
Prerequisites: No prerequisites at all
Target Audience: This webinar is well suited to social science researchers who are curious about new ways to explore complex, social, or behaviour patterns. Attendees do not need to have any experience or even any intention of using agent-based modelling, just wanting to know more about a cool research method is enough

We will be using Mentimeter to ask questions in this webinar so you may want to have a second device handy for this, such as a smartphone, but it is not essential.

This event will be livestreamed on our UK Data Service YouTube channel but the chat will not be monitored. By registering and attending the Zoom event you will be able to ask questions and interact.

Following this webinar, there will be two workshops (see the links under event resources below) with practical, hands-on examples of how to open and run models in NetLogo (a popular ABM software option), how to add real-world data, and how to run ABM experiments. There will also be a guest seminar featuring Kavin Narasimhan from Surrey University.

Recordings of UK Data Service events are made available on our YouTube channel and, together with the slides, on our past events pages soon after the event has taken place.