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1. Background.

This section should give the reader a feel for what Swarm is and how to get started.

1.1 What is Swarm?

Swarm is a software package for multi-agent simulation of complex systems being developed at The Santa Fe Institute. Swarm is intended to be a useful tool for researchers in a variety of disciplines, especially artificial life. The basic architecture of Swarm is the simulation of collections of concurrently interacting agents: with this architecture, we can implement a large variety of agent based models. Our initial target was Unix machines running GNU Objective C and X windows: the source code is freely available under GNU Licensing terms. Support for Microsoft Windows NT/95 is available as of Swarm version 1.1.

1.2 Where do I get Swarm?

FTP: Swarm Directory, or HTTP: Swarm Release

1.3 What is the current Release?

The latest release is 1.0.1

1.4 What type of User community exists for Swarm?

1.5 Documentation

These are issues dealing with Swarm and support documentation.

  1. Question: What documentation is there for Swarm?
  2. Answer: The newest version of the documentation will always be available on the Swarm homepage. It can be accessed by Web browsers or downloaded as a tarred-and-gzipped package for local extraction and usage. The documentation and other good stuff is currently stored under the "release" section of the page: Until the documentation is completely finalized, and probably even after that, one of the best sources of information about specific topics will be the mailing list archive of the swarm-support list.

  3. Question: Is there a bibliography of research done using Swarm?
  4. Answer: Well, almost. The Swarm team members have posted pages, which naturally include some references. And we maintain the user community page that describes some projects.

  5. Question: Is there a postscript version of the Swarm Docs?
  6. Answer: Yes, recently SFI staff have made ps documents available for the SwarmDocs 1.0.4 package and are working on ps versions for updates. Check for updates.

  7. Question: What Objective-C documentation is there?
  8. Answer: The single best source is an online book about Objective-C from NeXTstep. Check it out at:  They seem to regularly change the address of this document, so don't panic if it has moved.  We always seem to find it. Other Objective-C resources are on the distributed on the WWW. Glen Ropella now maintains an Objective-C site. Check it out! Be advised that SWARM supplies new libraries for the Objective-C compiler that are described in the Swarm documentation itself.

  9. Question: Why do I get "Forbidden You don't have permission to access..." when I try to access the swarm-support archives?
  10. Answer: Because the permissions aren't set correctly. Send e-mail to <> asking for this to be corrected. You can also get these archives via a mail message to SFI's Majordomo <>.

1.6 Hardware Requirements for Swarm

  1. Question: What kinds of computers can be used with Swarm?
  2. Answer: See the discussion of platforms. Swarm as first developed for Unix operating systems with X-windows, primarily Sun Workstations with the Solaris operating system and Intel-based personal computers with the Linux operating system. Linux is a Unix-clone OS. A version of Linux is available for Macintosh computers as well. Swarm version 1.0.2 is the first that runs on a DEC Alpha system with DEC Unix. We anticipate that a new, multi-platform version of Swarm will be available in 1998. That version will run on Windows NT as well as Unix systems.

  3. Question: What is the minimum hardware needed for Swarm?
  4. Answer: We don't know. We do know Swarm can run on a personal computer using the Linux operating system. Users have successfully compiled Swarm on a Pentium 75 running Linux with only 16Mb of RAM. This is barely enough RAM to load a full featured Linux OS, but, with some disk caching, it is enough memory for small demonstration applications. More RAM will be needed to run larger simulations. As far as hard disk space is concerned, the Swarm files will take about 20Mb of hard disk space, but significantly more storage will be needed for storage of programs and results. Also, since the interactive versions of the apps use graphics quite extensively, it would probably be good to have a good video card.

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