Agent-based models (ABMs) provide a methodology to explore systems of interacting, adaptive, diverse, spatially situated actors. Outcomes in ABMs can be equilibrium points, equilibrium distributions, cycles, randomness, or complex patterns; these outcomes are not directly determined by assumptions but instead emerge from the interactions of actors in the model. These behaviors may range from rational and payoff-maximizing strategies to rules that mimic heuristics identified by cognitive science. Agent-based techniques can be applied in isolation to create high-fidelity models and to explore new questions using simple constructions. They can also be used as a complement to deductive techniques. Overall, ABMs offer the potential to advance social sciences and to help us better understand our complex world. Copyright © 2014 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.
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