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


One of the main reasons for this web site is for us to collect feedback from people using our book and materials.
If you have any comments or suggestions please email them to us at:

We are especially keen to hear from instructors using the book—or considering it—to teach classes. How can we support you better? Do you have things to contribute, such as new example models, exercises, and project ideas? (We also like very much to hear the experience of individuals using our book to teach themselves.) As of September, 2015, the best way to communicate and share with us and other instructors is via the QUBEShub on-line forum for instructors using this book.

Acknowledgments and Links

This book would not have been possible without all the experience, wisdom, and skill that has gone into NetLogo.

More information about our first book Individual-based Modeling and Ecology is available from Princeton University Press. The book is available from Princeton and bookstores.

Spatial Simulation: Exploring Pattern and Process by O'Sullivan and Perry is a new book that should interest anyone (especially ecologists) interested in modeling systems that vary over space and time. The book focuses on basic modeling issues and established ways of representing spatial processes. The authors provide extensive on-line materials including a "zoo" of example models in NetLogo.

Ecologist-Developed Spatially-Explicit Dynamic Landscape Models edited by James D. Westervelt and Gordon L. Cohen is another new resource for learning about individual- based modeling and NetLogo. It starts with chapters on modeling basics, collaborative group projects, and getting started with NetLogo. The remaining chapters present 11 individual- based models, mostly from applied ecology but several from social science. The NetLogo code for all the models is available for download.

Uri Wilensky and William Rand have released their book An Introduction to Agent-based Modeling: Modeling Natural, Social, and Engineered Complex Systems with NetLogo. The title and objectives are quite similar to ours, but we find this book quite different in approach, organization, and style. It contains more background and history of agent-based modeling and "complexity science" than our book does.

Agent-Based Spatial Simulation with NetLogo, Volume 1 - Introduction and Bases is a new book edited by Arnaud Banos, Christophe Lang, and France Nicolas Marilleau. From the publisher: "Through a governing example, taking inspiration from a real problem in epidemiology, this book proposes, with pedagogy and economy, a guide to good practices of agent modeling. The reader will thus be able to understand and put the modeling into practice and acquire a certain amount of autonomy. This book rests on well-known techniques and tools: (i) modeling such as UML, (ii) simulation such as the NetLogo platform, (iii) exploration methods, and (iv) adaptation using participative simulation."

OpenABM is an on-line agent-based modeling forum that scientific modelers should take advantage of. It provides announcements and events, and a large library of models contributed by users. Many of the models are in NetLogo and described using the ODD protocol. OpenABM is part of the Network for Computational Modeling for SocioEcological Science.

Our close friend and collaborator Uta Berger coordinates the Summer School in Individual- and Agent-based Modeling at Dresden University of Technology, where much of this book's content has been developed and tested. This series of short-courses is intended primarily to teach graduate students how to use agent-based modeling in their research. If you fit that description, we encourage you to visit the course web site.

The individual-based ecological modeling site at Humboldt State University.

Volker Grimm's home page.

Those of you interested in economics are strongly encouraged to see all the useful materials at our friend Dr. Leigh Tesfatsion's Agent-based Computational Economics site.

This site was designed by our friends at Carson Park Design.

The simulation graphics on this site are courtesy of Roger Jovani, from the model described in: Jovani & Grimm 2008. Breeding synchrony in colonial birds: from local stress to global harmony. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 275: 1557-1563. The photo of breeding gannets is by Ivy Dawned. The graphic link at the bottom right of the home page is from a model that Steve Railsback and Matt Johnson of Humboldt State built to study how forest habitat in coffee plantations affects the ability of migratory songbirds to control a major pest, the coffee borer beetle (Railsback and Johnson. 2011. Pattern-oriented modeling of bird foraging and pest control in coffee farms. Ecological Modelling 222:3305-3319.)

The cover art on our book is Orange Haiku, a 2010 painting by the wonderful artist Astrid Preston. (Her painting Topiary Garden is on the cover of our 2005 book.) To us, much of her work conveys the basic idea of agent-based modeling: a system (landscape, forest, etc.) made up of unique individuals that are represented very simply but retain just enough "essence" of reality to be instantly recognizable. We thank her very much for letting us use her work. You will certainly enjoy a visit to her on-line gallery.