Data Matters: System Dynamics and Agent-Based Modeling

Welcome to “Simulation Strategies in Data Science: System Dynamics and Agent-based Modeling”

Short course at UNC’s Data Matters Workshop Series (June 23-24, 2016)

Here you will find the Syllabus for the course: Syllabus

System Dynamics (Day 1)

Presentations for day 1:


Stocks and Flows

Dynamic Equilibria and System Archetypes

Feedback and Homeostasis


Unit reviews and exponential/logistic concepts: Ford (2009) Appendices A and B

In this class, we will use system dynamics modeling software to graphically represent complex feedback systems.

Vensim PLE (Personal Learning Edition) is a sophisticated dynamic modeling package that is freely available online.  Vensim Personal Learning Edition (PLE) download: Vensim Free Download

A step-by-step Vensim tutorial can be found here: Building a simple Vensim model

STELLA is another piece of software that is not compatible with Vensim, but is easier to learn. For UNC users, you’ll find a tutorial for accessing STELLA 9 on UNC’s Virtual Computing Laboratory here: VCL STELLA Tutorial

Step-by-step STELLA tutorial from isee systems: STELLA tutorial

Additional System Dynamics Resources:

The system dynamics ‘bible’: Sterman, J. D. Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World.  Boston, MA: Irwin McGraw-Hill.

The latest version of the System Dynamics bibliography contains almost 10,000 SD-related references: SDS Bibliography

System Dynamics in Education Project: SD roadmaps

Academic and professional association: System Dynamics Society

Major journal in the field: System Dynamics Review

Book that most of my presentations are based on: Andrew Ford.  2009.  Modeling the Environment: An Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling of Environmental Systems (2nd  Edition).  Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Deaton, Michael and James Winebrake.  2000.  Dynamic Modeling of Environmental Systems.  New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.  See: Chapter 1: Overview of Environmental Systems and Chapter 2: Basic Modeling Concepts in Environmental Systems.  Pgs 1-65.

Collins, John F.  1974.  Chapter 1: Managing Our Cities – Can We Do Better?  In: Readings in Urban Dynamics: Volume 1.  Edited by Nathaniel Mass.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.  Pgs 3-11.

Schroeder III, Walter W. Chapter 3: Urban Management Actions.  In: Readings in Urban Dynamics: Volume 2.  Edited by Walter W. Schroeder III, Robert E. Sweeney, and Louis Edward Alfeld.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Pgs. 31-48.

Sterman, J. D. (1991). A Skeptic’s Guide to Computer Models. In Barney, G. O. et al. (eds.), Managing a Nation: The Microcomputer Software Catalog. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 209- 229.

Sterman, John D.  2006.  Learning from Evidence in a Complex World. American Journal of Public Health 96(3): 505-514.

Agent-Based Modeling (Day 2)

Presentation for day 2: Intro Agent-Based Modeling

Gabriel Wurzer MathMod2012 NetLogo tutorial (modified for this workshop): NetLogo Tutorial

Rene Doursat 2005 ULV-Reno NetLogo Tutorial: NetLogo Tutorial 2

Full NetLogo tutorial on NetLogo website: NetLogo Tutorial 3

Very useful text for Agent-Based Modeling using NetLogo (Also an excellent resource for learning more about NetLogo): Railsback, S.F. and Grimm, V., 2012. Agent-Based and Individual-Based Modeling: A Practical Introduction.  Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

Additional resources:

A classic text on the evolution of cooperation in societies: Axelrod, R., 1997. The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration.  Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

Bonabeau, E., 2002. Agent-based modeling: Methods and techniques for simulating human systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99 (Suppl 3):7280-7287.

Parunak, H.V.D., Savit, R. and Riolo, R., 1998. Agent-Based Modeling vs. Equation-Based Modeling: A Case Study and Users’ Guide In: J. Sichman, R. Conte and N. Gilbert (Editor), Multi-Agent Systems and Agent-Based SimulationSpringer Berlin / Heidelberg, 277-283.

Billari, F.C., Fent, T., Prskawetz, A. and Scheffran, J., 2006. Agent-Based Computational Modelling: An Introduction. In: F.C. Billari, T. Fent, A. Prskawetz and J. Scheffran (Editor), Agent-Based Computational Modelling. New York, NY: Physica-Verlag HD, 1-16.

Janssen, M.A. and Ostrom, E., 2006. Empirically Based, Agent-based models. Ecology and Society, 11 (2):37.

Grimm, V., Revilla, E., Berger, U., Jeltsch, F., Mooij, W.M., Railsback, S.F., Thulke, H.-H., Weiner, J., Wiegand, T. and DeAngelis, D.L., 2005. Pattern-Oriented Modeling of Agent-Based Complex Systems: Lessons from Ecology. Science, 310 (5750):987-991.

Tesfatsion, L., 2003. Agent-based computational economics: modeling economies as complex adaptive systems. Information Sciences, 149 (4):262-268.

Health Applications

Applications of Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation to Healthcare Operations Management

Use of an Agent-Based Model to Understand Clinical Systems

Agent-Based Models and Systems Science Approaches to Public Health

Simulating Health Behavior – A Guide to Solving Complex Health System Problems with Agent-Based Simulation Modeling


System dynamics: STELLAVensimSimilePowerSimNetLogo, pySD

Agent-based modeling: NetLogoRePastAnyLogicSwarm