I’m pleased to say that another recent paper, this one titled Advancing Social Simulation: Lessons from Demography, has been accepted to the Alife 14 conference in New York. I’ll be giving an oral presentation on this work, which was a joint project with Jakub Bijak, Daniel Courgeau and Robert Franck. This is an early version of a rather complicated set of ideas that we hope to publish in a larger journal paper sometime down the line.
Previous work has proposed that computational modelling of social systems is composed of two primary streams of research: systems sociology, which is focused on the generation of social theory; and social simulation, which focuses on the study of real-world social systems. Here we argue that the social simulation stream stands to beneﬁt from recent methodological and theoretical advances in demography. Demography has long been an empirically focused discipline focused primarily on mathematical modelling; however, agent-based simulation have proven inﬂuential of late as demographers seek to link individual-level behaviours to macro-level
patterns. Here we characterise this shift as a move toward system-based modelling, a paradigm in which the scientiﬁc object of interest is neither the individual nor the population, but rather the interactions between them. We ﬁrst describe the four successive paradigms of demography: the period, cohort, event-history and multilevel perspectives. Then we examine how system-based modelling can assist demographers with several major challenges: overcoming complexity in social research; reducing uncertainty; and enhancing theoretical foundations. We propose that this new paradigm can enhance the broader study of populations via social simulation.
I’ll upload the full paper once the final corrected version is done and submitted. The conference proceedings will be open-access in MIT Press.
Hope to see some of you in NYC!