Between Numbers and Narratives: Agent-Based Simulation as a “Third Way” of Doing Research
Monday, 14th February 2011, 3:00-5:00pm
Although science carries out research in many different ways, these broadly fall into two classes, theories represented as narratives (from the qualitative end of social science into the humanities) and theories represented as numbers (from the quantative end of social science into the physical sciences). Agent-Based Simulation is a novel technique for developing and testing theories represented in a third way, as particular kinds of computer programme (although no programming experience is required!). It thus has a contribution to make both to the social and physical sciences in developing theories that are richer and less restrictive than quantitative theories but more robust than qualitative ones. It also allows us to talk concretely about such interesting phenomena as ‘emergence’, ‘complexity’, ‘non-linearity’ and ‘structuration’.
This session will use a sequence of relevant examples to introduce the background, outlook, methodology and techniques of Agent-Based Simulation. It will discuss a number of interesting ways in which Agent-Based Simulation can be used in conjunction with existing kinds of research. It will introduce NetLogo, a free cross-platform software package for Agent-Based Simulation and discuss a range of resources for those who may want to take the technique further.
Agent-Based Simulation, Complexity, Research Methods, Mixed Methods, Micro-Macro Link