POLS 905: Complex Adaptive Systems, Agent-based Modeling, and Computer Simulation

In the past, this course was taught as POLS 909, "Topics in Methodology". The Spring, 2005, semester when it is offered with its own number and catalog listing. In Spring, 2005, the course will meet on Monday afternoon, 12:30-3:20pm, in Blake Hall 211.

Students are allowed to use any computer modeling language or tool. Models built with the Swarm Simulation System, a modeling library that is available for free from the Swarm Development Group, are the instructor's specialty and various exercises with Swarm will be considered.

The syllabus from the 2003 edition of this course is available below. The Spring 2005 edition will have the same basic outline, but some of the readings will be changed. In particular, the course will incorporate sections from a new book by Volker Grimm and Steve Railsback, Individual-based Modeling and Ecology (Princeton University Press, forthcoming). This is a good treatment of the general issues that motivate agent-based modeling and applications to the environment. The course will also incorporate the most recent version of the Opinion model that is discussed in Robert Huckfeldt, Paul Johnson, and John Sprague, Political Disagreement (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Perhaps the most significant change I plan for Spring, 2005, is that the course will allow students a choice on the type of research project that will be done. Everybody will be required to "get their feet wet" by doing some targeted exercises with simulation models. These will be treated as "participation" effort, not a major part of the grade. Most of the grade, 80%, will be based on a final research paper. The writing options are

  1. Create a simulation model and write a research report about it. Papers will be presented to the class at the end of the semester. Papers of this sort have, in the past, been submitted to journals, and some have been published!
  2. Write a comprehensive literature review that includes every single article or book about simulation in some subfield in any science. Make a presentation to the class (20-30 minutes)
Most PhD bound students should seriously consider the first option. One cannot truly appreciate the modeling experience until one actually tries to do it. As in the past, I have a web server where projects can be created and worked on collaboratively. I won't write your models for you, but I will be able to give some help. For students that are in their first year of graduate school (and therefore lack background in research design) or students who intend to complete only an M.A., the latter option might be more appealing. As far as the rest of the class is concerned, that type of project performs a valuable public service of filling us in on how simulations are used in various fields.

Email List

The list called SWARM-L. After you join, you can send messages to it by writing to swarm-l@ku.edu.

How to Join SWARM-L

You can join it by sending an email to listproc@listproc.cc.ku.edu and in the body of your email put this, and only this:

subscribe SWARM-L Your-Name-Here

For example, for me it was

subscribe SWARM-L Paul Johnson

Unless you are named Paul Johnson, you will have to adjust this a bit :)! You need to send that email from your regular email setup (I mean whatever program or "client" you use to read and send mail) because the listproc program reads your reply-to address from your headers (invisible stuff your email program sends).

Archive of SWARM-L Messages

There is a searchable index of messages.

Swarm Resources

I've got a "Swarm Headquarters" page setup. Look it over. It has software (for Linux users), links to the SwarmOnlineFAQ as well as a ton of Working Example Code and the in-progress UserGuide

I also have an on-line documents to help people learn about Unix and prorams that run on Unix.

Click Here to launch the Unix & SAS FAQ on my twiki page http://www.ku.edu/cgiwrap/pauljohn/twiki/view

      Name                    Last modified      Size  Description
Parent Directory - C-programming/ 02-Mar-2007 10:10 - ComplexityReferences..> 29-Mar-2005 09:46 5.3K ConwayTutorial.txt 05-Feb-2007 20:57 1.0K Conway_Example_Sessi..> 29-Mar-2005 09:46 3.6K CricketBugs.tar.gz 24-Mar-2003 13:17 30K DataCulture/ 11-Oct-2004 12:26 - Ex10.1.txt 15-Mar-2000 10:38 5.5K Example1.c 26-Jan-2000 11:23 2.2K Example2/ 11-Oct-2004 12:26 - Exercise12.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 1.9K Exercise6.1.c 25-Feb-2003 11:41 2.4K Exercise6.2.c 25-Feb-2003 11:41 765 Exercise6.3.c 25-Feb-2003 11:41 857 Exercise6.4.c 25-Feb-2003 11:42 1.0K Exercise9.1.txt 24-Mar-2003 12:21 4.9K ExterminatorModels/ 11-Oct-2004 12:26 - GrossLectureNotes.fmt 27-Mar-2003 12:49 17K HammondAxelrod_Evolu..> 18-Apr-2003 11:45 168K LandUse_Simulations_..> 29-Mar-2005 09:46 30K NetworkCites.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 435 ObjC.pdf 06-Mar-2003 10:42 2.6M Pop-Level_NRM.pdf 07-Jan-2003 14:48 194K RailsbackHarvey_Ecol..> 07-Jan-2003 14:56 377K RopellaEtAl_NRM.pdf 07-Jan-2003 14:48 208K SFR_NRM_Results.pdf 07-Jan-2003 14:48 87K SwarmExercise2.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 4.3K cnotes1.pdf 03-Mar-2005 14:38 54K ecologyCites.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 9.4K farming-3.tar.gz 13-Apr-2005 08:03 66K farming-4.tar.gz 13-Apr-2005 21:08 35K fprintfnote.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 4.8K javaStudentTutorial/ 11-Oct-2004 12:26 - labExample.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 453 labExample2.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 9.7K labExample3.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 3.9K myExterminator2.tar.gz 01-Apr-2003 15:33 7.3K oldMaterial/ 08-Feb-2007 14:26 - sprintfnote.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 1.4K summarizingRuns.txt 29-Mar-2005 09:46 8.5K syllabus07.html 08-Feb-2007 14:31 26K syllabus07.pdf 08-Feb-2007 14:28 104K