“Agent-based modeling and simulation (ABMS) is a relatively new approach to modeling complex systems composed of interacting, autonomous ‘agents’. Agents have behaviors, often described by simple rules, and interactions with other agents, which in turn influence their behaviors. By modeling agents individually, the full effects of the diversity that exists among agents in their attributes and behaviors can be observed as it gives rise to the behavior of the system as a whole. By modeling systems from the ‘ground up’—agent-by-agent and interaction-by-interaction—self-organization can often be observed in such models. Patterns, structures, and behaviors emerge that were not explicitly programmed into the models, but arise through the agent interactions. The emphasis on modeling the heterogeneity of agents across a population and the emergence of self-organization are two of the distinguishing features of agent-based simulation as compared to other simulation techniques such as discrete-event simulation and system dynamics. Agent-based modeling offers a way to model social systems that are composed of agents who interact with and influence each other, learn from their experiences, and adapt their behaviors so they are better suited to their environment.”
Reference: Macal, C.M. and North, M.J., Tutorial on agent-based modeling and simulation. Journal of Simulation (2010) 4, 151-162.