Its been a while since (to say the least), that we wrote a position paper about agent-based modeling. But with agent-based modeling becoming more widely accepted and the growth of machine learning within the geographical sciences we thought we would revisit some of the existing challenges (e.g. validation, representing behavior) and discuss how machine learning and data might help here. To this end, Alison Heppenstall, Nick Malleson, Ed Manley, Jiaqi Ge and Mike Batty, have recently published a paper entitled “Future Developments in Geographical Agent-Based Models: Challenges and Opportunities” in Geographical Analysis. Below we provide the abstract to the paper, and if this is of interest please follow the links to the paper itself.
Despite reaching a point of acceptance as a research tool across the geographical and social sciences, there remain significant methodological challenges for agent-based models. These include recognizing and simulating emergent phenomena, agent representation, construction of behavioral rules, calibration and validation. Whilst advances in individual-level data and computing power have opened up new research avenues, they have also brought with them a new set of challenges. This paper reviews some of the challenges that the field has faced, the opportunities available to advance the state-of-the-art, and the outlook for the field over the next decade. We argue that although agent-based models continue to have enormous promise as a means of developing dynamic spatial simulations, the field needs to fully embrace the potential offered by approaches from machine learning to allow us to fully broaden and deepen our understanding of geographical systems.
Heppenstall, A., Crooks, A.T., Malleson, N., Manley, E., Ge, J. and Batty, M. (2020), Future Developments in Geographical Agent-Based Models: Challenges and Opportunities, Geographical Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1111/gean.12267 (pdf)