Agent-based and Individual-based Modeling: A Practical Introduction


Welcome to the web site for Agent-based and Individual-based Modeling: A Practical Introduction. This is a textbook on scientific applications of agent-based (or "individual-based"; we use the terms synonymously) modeling to study complex systems. It is intended for classes at upper-undergraduate or higher levels, and for self-instruction by students and scientists.

Our book uses Wilensky's NetLogo software (Wilensky, 1999) as the platform for building and analyzing models. This is not a book on NetLogo, but a book on scientific modeling that includes learning to use NetLogo software.

The book is available, in paper and e-book versions, through your local bookstore, its site at Princeton University Press, and on-line bookstores. You can view the Table of Contents, download Chapter 1 (PDF), and see a list of reviews and endorsements at its site at Princeton University Press. See below about the forthcoming 2nd edition.


  • The second edition--almost here! The second edition of this book is now available for advanced ordering and should be in stores in March, 2019. The new edition includes hundreds of changes to improve clarity in challenging sections, use the newest version of NetLogo, update model development and analysis guidance with advances since 2012, provide new and more exercises, and address many comments provided by users. We will also be providing more complete instructor materials.

  • Second edition of this web site. In conjunction with the release of the second edition of the book, we will be completely renovating this web site. Come back soon to see the changes, and please excuse any interruptions.

  • Article on using NetLogo for large models and speeding up NetLogo programs. We and colleagues recently published a journal article showing that, contrary to widespread belief, NetLogo is well-suited and computationally efficient for large and complex scientific models. The article provides techniques for finding and eliminating slow parts of a NetLogo code, often speeding up execution by orders of magnitude. The article, supporting information, and updates since its publication are here.

  • On-line forum for instructors. We now have an on-line forum for instructors using this book, thanks to the QUBES project. At this web site you can see and contribute teaching resources, links to related materials, and announcements; and participate in mentoring sessions with the book's authors and others.

  • Short courses on teaching individual- and agent-based modeling:

    • Humboldt State instructors' course. From 2011 through 2018, Steve Railsback and Volker Grimm conducted one-week short courses for professors and other instructors interested in developing classes on individual-based modeling using this book. The 2018 course was at Humboldt State University, California, July 30 - August 3. Information is at the course web site. Here is our 2017 class hard at work: HSU short course, 2017
    • Dresden University of Technology summer school in individual- and agent-based modeling. For 12 consecutive years, Uta Berger organized summer short courses designed primarily for graduate students interested in using agent-based modeling in their research. Volker Grimm and Steve Railsback were instructors in most years. The 2018 course was 16-22 July, in Holzhau, Germany. See the course web site for more information.
    • Both of these courses plan to be on sabbatical in 2019, but check back here for updates. We do occasionally teach short courses when invited. Please contact us if you are interested in hosting a course.
  • Course adoptions. According to our publisher, this textbook has been adopted for courses at schools including: Amherst College, U. Arizona, Brigham Young, U. British Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Duquesne, Emory, Free University of Berlin, Indiana, Miami U., Michigan, Northwestern, Old Dominion, Oregon, Portland State, Qingdao University, U. South Florida, Susquehanna U., U. Texas-Austin, University College Dublin, and U. Virginia.

  • Preview materials. If you are an instructor considering this book as a course text, please see its site at Princeton University Press for free preview materials.


Steven F. Railsback is an adjunct professor in the mathematical modeling graduate program at Humboldt State University and a consulting environmental engineer and ecologist in Arcata, California.

Volker Grimm is a senior scientist in the Department of Ecological Modeling, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, Leipzig; a Member of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig; and professor at the University of Potsdam, Germany.

Authors Steve Railsback and Volker Grimm


Download link

Follow this link to download supporting materials mentioned in the text, or the errata.