Japanese Journal for Management Information System, Special Issue on Agent-Based
Modeling, Vol. 12, No. 3, Dec. 2003.
Advancing the Art of Simulation in the Social Sciences
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy,
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Abstract. Advancing the state of the art of simulation in the social sciences requires
appreciating the unique value of simulation as a third way of doing science, in contrast to
both induction and deduction. Simulation can be an effective tool for discovering
surprising consequences of simple assumptions. This essay offers advice for doing
simulation research, focusing on the programming of a simulation model, analyzing the
results and sharing the results with others. Replicating other people’s simulations gets
special emphasis, with examples of the procedures and difficulties involved in the
process of replication. Finally, suggestions are offered for fostering of a community of
social scientists who do simulation.
Note: This is an updated version of an article originally published in Rosario Conte,
Rainer Hegselmann and Pietro Terna (eds.), Simulating Social Phenomena (Berlin:
Springer-Verlag, 1997), pp. 21-40. Reprinted with permission of Springer-Verlag.
1. Simulation as a Young Field1
Simulation is a young and rapidly growing field in the social sciences.2 As in most
young fields, the promise is greater than the proven accomplishments. The purpose of
this paper is to suggest what it will take for the field to become mature so that the
potential contribution of simulation to the social sciences can be realized.
One indication of the youth of the field is the extent to which published work in
simulation is very widely dispersed. Consider these observations from the Social Science
Citation Index for the year 2002.
1. There were 77 articles with "simulation" in the title."3 Clearly simulation is an
important field. However, these 77 a