A call for papers on:

The Use of Logic in Agent-Based Social Simulation

to be published as a special issue of JASSS
the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation

Deadline for submission: October 31st 2003

Co-edited by Frank Dignum, Bruce Edmonds and Liz Sonenberg

Agent-Based Social Simulation (ABSS) stands at the cross-roads between complex social systems and computer science. On one hand, social simulation is an exciting application area for people doing research in agent technology. On the other, agent technology provides interesting new tools for performing social simulations.

People with a background in social simulation have used mathematical models to model social systems. Using computational simulations with agents to represent social actors provides them with the means to create more complicated models with a more descriptive flavour. The demands of their study inevitably draws social simulators into issues of computer science since they require ever better tools and their subject matter naturally suggests ideas relevant to computer science. However, the main focus remains the social model.

For people with a background in agent research the main tools are logic and/or programming tools. Agent theory is mainly built upon a set of logics so that agent implementations should be consistent with these logical axioms. Systems of many interacting agents can be extremely complex – working out what is happening in such a system is not easy. Ideas and analogies from know social systems (human or animal) are a fertile source of ideas for understanding these complex interactive systems.

However, where modal logic seems to provide a consistent base for single agent behavior there is little or no practical theory on agent interactions. The logics that are used to describe social relations and interactions mainly stem from philosophical logic (e.g. deontic logic for the description of norms), and even these either treat society as a whole or represent only a single individual’s perspective. The question arises whether such abstract logic is of any use in the area of ABSS and, if so, how such formal systems can be usefully applied in ABSS.

This issue was brought to a head by Bruce Edmonds during the workshop on Regulated Agent-Based Social Systems: Theory and Applications in 2002 (RASTA 2002). He attacked what he saw as "Empty formal logic papers without any results". Rosaria Conte defended the use of logic as an attempt to construct a much needed social theory. Others defended the use of logic in MAS on the ground that in their experience it has been useful. The discussion resulted in a position paper of Bruce Edmonds on the use of logic in ABSS. Frank Dignum and Liz Sonenberg wrote a reply to this position and Bruce gave an answer to their reply. A draft of this discussion (which can be read at http://cfpm.org/logic-in-abss/papers) forms the starting point of the current special issue.

In this special issue we invite contributions that contribute to our understanding of how logic can be useful in ABSS, or to further analyse the weaknesses of logic for the purposes of ABSS. We also invite contributions that try to bridge the gap between abstract logical formalisms and applications that go beyond toy examples. We would particularly like to receive contributions that demonstrate how a logic or logical formalisation can be useful in realist applications or working simulations.

Specific topics include, but are not limited to:

Important: Please read the position papers of Frank Dignum, Bruce Edmonds and Liz Sonnenburg at http://cfpm.org/logic-in-abss/papers before submitting a paper so as to inform yourself about the context of this special issue. These papers (on either side!) strongly indicate the sort of criteria we will use for determining the relevance of a paper. Papers which totally ignore these and which do not further the debate will probably be rejected. However we will try to ensure that no papers are rejected simply because they take one side or another and the usual criteria of significance and soundness will dominate the selection process.

If you have any doubts or queries regarding a paper’s relevance please contact one of the co-editors (but only once you have read the position papers).


The deadline for submission is October 31st 2003. Please send papers to dignum@cs.uu.nl in an accessible format (any of: text, LaTeX, Word, RTF, or PDF preferably compressed). Accepted papers will need to adhere to the style specified by JASSS at http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/admin/submit.html before they can be published.


This call for papers is also available as text (suitable for posting on mailing lists) in a long and a short form.


Frank Dignum
Institute of Information and Computing Sciences
Universiteit Utrecht
Email: dignum@cs.uu.nl and Web: http://www.cs.uu.nl/staff/dignum.html

Bruce Edmonds
Centre for Policy Modelling
Manchester Metropolitan University
Email: bruce@cfpm.org Web: http://cfpm.org/~bruce

Liz Sonenberg
Department of Information Systems
University of Melbourne
Email: l.sonenberg@unimelb.edu.au and Web: http://www.dis.unimelb.edu.au/people/staff/lizs.html