ABM models for the COVID-19 pandemic

In an earlier post I mentioned that agent-based models provide a substantially different way of approaching the problem of pandemic modeling. ABM models are generative simulations of processes that work incrementally through the behavior of discrete agents; so modeling an epidemic using this approach is a natural application. In an important recent research effort Gianluca …

Thinking about pandemic models

One thing that is clear from the pandemic crisis that is shaking the world is the crucial need we have for models that allow us to estimate the future behavior of the epidemic. The dynamics of the spread of an epidemic are simply not amenable to intuitive estimation. So it is critical to have computational …

Modeling the social

One of the most interesting authorities on social models and simulations is Scott Page. This month he published a major book on this topic, The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You, and it is a highly valuable contribution. The book corresponds roughly to the content of Page's very …

Dynamics of medieval cities

  Cities provide a good illustration of the ontology of the theory of assemblage (link). Many forms of association, production, logistics, governance, and population processes came together from independent origins and with different causal properties. So one might imagine that unexpected dynamics of change are likely to be found in all urban settings. The medieval …

Complexity and contingency

One of the more intriguing currents of social science research today is the field of complexity theory. Scientists like John Holland (Complexity: A Very Short Introduction), John Miller and Scott Page (Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life), and Joshua Epstein (Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling) make bold …

ANT-style critique of ABM

A short recent article in the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation by Venturini, Jensen, and Latour lays out a critique of the explanatory strategy associated with agent-based modeling of complex social phenomena (link). (Thanks to Mark Carrigan for the reference via Twitter; @mark_carrigan.) Tommaso Venturini is an expert on digital media networks at …

John von Neumann and stochastic simulations

source: Monte Carlo method (Wikipedia) John von Neumann was one of the genuine mathematical geniuses of the twentieth century. A particularly interesting window onto von Neumann's scientific work is provided by George Dyson in his  book, Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe. The book is as much an intellectual history of the mathematics and …

Assessment of economic models

Science is generally concerned with two central semantic features of theories: truth of theoretical hypotheses and reliability of observational predictions. Truth involves a correspondence between hypothesis and the world; while predictions involve statements about the future behavior of a real system. Science is also concerned with epistemic values: warrant and justification. The warrant of a …

Mental illness, big pharma, and agent-based simulation

  The New York Review of Books has an absorbing two-part piece by Marcia Angell on mental illness, psychiatry, and big pharma (link, link). (The NYRB Facebook page provides a good way of following the NYRB.)  Angell provides an in-depth discussion of books by Irving Kirsch, Robert Whitaker, and Daniel Carlat. There has been an explosion in the numbers of …

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