The impact of the model structure in social simulations
Presented at the first international conference of the European
Social Simulation Association, Gronigen, the Netherlands, September 2003.
Date: 7th October 2003
CPM Report No.: CPM-03-121
The use of scenarios for planning is
quite common, be it for industries, nations, shop chains, or
technologies. They represent a specific approach where while dealing
with uncertainties, one can either consider the whole (frequently
continuous) range of alternatives, or specify particular cases that
would capture key properties of this range.
From their appearance in the literature in the 40s, scenarios have been
more and more frequent. It was generally extrapolated through past data
and relationships, till the 80s, when the studies in innovation and
diffusion showed that the future is depending on changes in social and
economic systems which paths are multiple, and indeed not fixed, but
evolving themselves. The goal of scenarios then became the analysis of
some trends within a “possibility space”, and eventually the reduction
of that space finding potential discontinuities, in order to improve
the decision making process.
It is the case for climate change and social behaviour throughout time.
Scenarios are used because the future is uncertain, and the ability to
adapt to these future changes might have effects upon the longer term
(e.g. technological changes).
A multi agent system can be used to represent formally these scenarios
and its structure and components can then be analysed in order to
evaluate their impact upon the outcome.