Facilitating the Comparison of Social Simulations using E-science

By: Bruce Edmonds
Date: 17th May 2005
CPM Report No.: CPM-05-149

To be presented at the 1st International Conference on E-Social Science, Manchester, July 2005.


Computational simulations of social phenomena are becoming increasingly common.  They embody theories or descriptions concerning such phenomena – varying from abstract analogy down to computational description.  However how the simulations algorithm causes the resultant behaviour can itself be only an hypothesis – one that can only be disconfirmed as the result of a computational experiment.  It is argued that, regardless of whether social simulations are abstract (KISS) or descriptive in nature (KIDS) that it is vital to extensively replicate and compare simulations in order to determine the nature of the simulation.  To rule out a misattribution of cause of a simulation’s behaviour the simulations to be compared should be as independent as possible, preferably by different researchers within a different computational environments.  Comparing code of different implementations of the same simulation can not guarantee they are essentially the same, this has to be checked via comparing the results.  E-science can facilitate such comparison of simulation results by allowing simulations to be mounted so that they can be remotely run and their results queried.  One method of doing this is described which allows remote querying via traditional interfaces and agent query languages.  This relates to work by others employing the semantic grid.

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