ABMs: representation, coherence, balance

O’Sullivan’s article is a rather critical account of ABMs. The article states the issue of highly funded models, which are too sensitive to reveal the outcomes of or are too complex to be explained in journal articles (544). State-of-the-art findings will reach a specific audience, not the audience that they were intended for. Thus, if ABMs are social agents, representing social issues, we have one serious limitation. How will transparency, availability, and clarity be attained? Perhaps we should strive for balance in models between the relationship of agents with space, and how and where those agents are represented (545).

I found it difficult not to get lost in the definitions of ABMs. In particular, their accuracy, validity, and lucidity. Bonabeau differentiates ABMs from market models with advancing game theory, by taking the focus off of the ‘theory’ part. On the other hand, O’Sullivan finds ABMs to be simple and abstract, effective for researching theory implications. He goes on further to state that ABMs, as they stand, “cannot establish the truth of those theories” (546). How then, can the truth of those theories be established? Should we be concerned with the idea of theory? Or restructuring what we deem that a model is all together? The issues with regards to the way space and time are represented are being explored and that’s definitely a good thing. Despite all the setbacks, there is much potential in ABMs as they are exploring numerous fields. As long as limitations diminish, there is hope.

-henry miller

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