Alternative Approaches to the Empirical Validation of Agent-Based Models

CPM Report No.: CPM-07-178
By: Scott Moss
Date: 13th June 2007


The premise of this paper is that, taken as a whole, researchers in agent based social simulation fail to exploit the strengths of their field. Windrum, Fagiolo and Moneta noted the strong similarities between agent based social simulation and conventional social science - specifically econometric - approaches to empirical modelling and on that basis considered how econometric validation techniques might be used in empirical social simulations more broadly. An alternative is the approach of the French school of \companion modelling" associated with Bousquet, Barreteau, Le Page and others which engages stakeholders in the modelling and validation process. The conventional approach is constrained by prior theory and the French school approach by evidence. In following the French school, the problems for validation identified by Windrum et al. become irrelevant and the models readily incorporate complexity due to realistic (indeed, descriptive) specifications of individual behaviour and social interaction. The result combines the precision of formal approaches with the richness of narrative scenarios. Companion modelling is therefore found to be practicable and to achieve what is claimed for it and this alone is a key difference from conventional social science including agent based computational economics

Keywords: complexity, model, econometrics, companion modelling, validation, logic, science, syntax, semantics, modelling, simplicity, survey

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