Handbook on Complexity and Public Policy
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Handbook on Complexity and Public Policy

  • Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series

Edited by Robert Geyer and Paul Cairney

Though its roots in the natural sciences go back to the early 20th century, complexity theory as a scientific framework has developed most rapidly since the 1970s. Increasingly, complexity theory has been integrated into the social sciences, and this groundbreaking Handbook on Complexity and Public Policy has brought together top thinkers in complexity and policy from around the world. With contributions from Europe, North America, Brazil and China this comprehensive Handbook splits the topic into three cohesive parts: Theory and Tools, Methods and Modeling, and Application.
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Chapter 14: Using agent-based modelling to inform policy for complex domains

Mirsad Hadzikadic, Joseph Whitmeyer and Ted Carmichael


Complex systems have been a topic of study in the natural sciences for decades. Practitioners in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, meteorology and engineering (Braha et al., 2006; Flake, 1998; Gell-Mann, 1994; Gleick, 1988; Nicolis and Prigogine, 1989; Strogatz, 2000; von Bertalanffy, 1969; Callebaut and Rasskin-Gutman, 2005) have used the concept of complex systems to explain phenomena as diverse as phase transitions in physical matter, immune system functions, and weather patterns. These systems have been modeled using, for the most part, the concept of dynamical systems and nonlinear equations. Recently, social scientists have started experimenting with complex systems tools developed in physics, mathematics and engineering in order to better understand the nature of issues that our society is facing today. Unlike natural systems, social systems involve the active participation of system elements (they possess ‘will’). Subsequently, tremendous progress has been made in applying the methodology of complex adaptive systems (CAS) to economics, sociology, transportation, warfare, decision making and other disciplines (Axelrod and Cohen, 1999; Bonabeau et al., 1999; Buchanan, 2002; 2007; Capra, 1982; 2002; Dooley, 1997; Durlauf and Young, 2001; Epstein, 2006; Gell-Mann, 1994; 1995; Gribbin, 2004; Innes and Booher, 1999; Johnson, 2007; Hazy et al., 2007; Holland, 1992a; 1992b; 1995; 1998; Kauffman, 1993; 1995; 2000; 2008; Khlebopros et al., 2007; Kohler and Gumerman, 2000; Kollman et al., 2003; Krugman, 1996; Langton, 1995; Suleiman et al., 2000; Waldrop, 1993).

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