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 now 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.


  • Short course application periods are now open! Both of the summer short courses described below are now accepting applications for 2018. Follow these links for the Humboldt State University course and the TU Dresden course.

  • Second edition in preparation! We are now preparing the second edition of this book, which should be available in 2018. The new edition will improve clarity in particularly 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.

  • New article on 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. Steve Railsback and Volker Grimm offer a one-week short course for professors and other instructors interested in developing classes on individual-based modeling using this book. The 2018 course will be at Humboldt State University, California, July 30 - August 3. Information is at the course web site.
    • Dresden University of Technology summer school in individual- and agent-based modeling. For many years, Uta Berger has organized summer short courses designed primarily for graduate students interested in using agent-based modeling in their research. The 2018 course will be 16-22 July, in the delightful village of Holzhau, Germany. See the course web site for more information.
    • We occasionally teach short courses when invited. Please contact us if you are interested in hosting a course.
  • 2017 short course. Our annual short course for potential users of this book was in August at Humboldt State University. Here is the class hard at work: HSU short course, 2017

  • Course adoptions. According to our publisher, this textbook has already 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.

  • Supporting materials updated. Supporting materials mentioned in the book (example codes, model descriptions, data files, etc.) are available, and a few minor mistakes have been corrected. Additional materials are available for instructors. Errata and instructor materials were last updated 2 February 2017. See the Downloads & Errata page.

  • Additional books. Several other new books address agent- and individual-based modeling in NetLogo and could be useful for instructors or scientists teaching themselves. See the feedback and links page for more information and links to these books.


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.