Social Simulation 2018-2019


The course on Social Simulation covers the following topics:

(1)   Designing social simulations with NetLogo and/or Repast,

(2)   Methodologies for social simulation,

(3)   Determine the minimal necessary rules to create a maximally realistic and scalable simulation



In your final report you should include why you used or did not use the theory that is discussed during class (of course in as far as it is relevant).








The Programming Project



Frank Dignum (note: my room is BBG 5.12 NOT 5.17)


Samaneh Heidari

Propose your team before May 1 to the lecturer by filling in the names of the proposed team on the spreadsheet in Google.

Schedule Lectures






Tuesday, April 23

9.00 – 11.00


Thursday,April 25

15.15 – 17.00

Agent Based Social Simulation and NetLogo

NetLogo models


Tuesday, April 30

9.00 – 11:00

  Computer Science and Social Simulation

Thursday, May 2

15.15 – 17.00

Social Simulation and Social Science


Tuesday, May 7

9.00 – 11.00

Methodology and ODD

Thursday, May 9

15.15 – 17.00

Methodology for your projects, Social simulation for crowd behavior


Tuesday, May 14

9.00 – 11.00

Social simulation in practice (Police (drugs trafficking) and EU policies)

Thursday, May 16

15.15 – 17.00

Social simulation in practice (Policy support Dutch government and Police (radicalization))


Tuesday, May 21

9.00 – 11.00

Social concepts in simulations

Thursday, May 23

15.15 – 17.00

Agent decision making aspects in social simulation


Tuesday, May 28


Combining theories and models

Thursday, May 30

15.15 – 17.00

Ascension day, NO CLASS


Tuesday, June 4

9.00 – 11.00

 Purposes of social simulation

Thursday, June 6

15.15 – 17.00

 When did you fail or succeed with a social simulation?


Tuesday, June 11

9.00 – 11.00

 Social Network Analysis

Thursday, June 13

15.15 – 17.00

Verification and validation of simulations


Friday, June 28


Presentations results programming assignment

(room BBG 2.01)

13:00-14:00 – groups 2,3,4

14:00-14:15 – break

14:15-15:15 – groups 5,6,7

15:15-15:30 - break

15:30-16:30 – groups 8,9,10


June 28


Deadline submitting project



The final grade is determined by: Final Project (code / report / overall results) (80%); Presentations (15%), small assignments/presence (5%);



Literature and Data

The literature overview should give a summary of the literature that you are using as a basis for your project. In the section on Data you should indicate which data you are using to base your model on (if any). This can be data from articles, data from the assignment, information from one of the supervisors or even no data at all.

Your overview should be such that your fellow students can understand it!

Indicate the topic, the papers used for the overview and your argued choices for which literature you are using for your project. This literature overview is part of your final report, but it is wise to start on this early on!

The Social Simulation Projects


Individual project

The goal of the individual project is to get acquainted with social simulation through some simple exercises with a NetLogo model. Deadline for submission of the report and code is May 2. Send your report and links to the code of the models to Samaneh Heidari.


Team project


Some guidelines on how to approach the projects are here. They are also discussed in the class of May 7, which is about methodology and the ODD model.

Please fill out the consent form print it and hand it in during class to show your consent to participate in the observational research we are doing with the projects.

  1. Team formation

2.     Regular reports

  1. First prototype
  2. Prepare a presentation of 15-20 minutes on your project for June 28th. The presentation should include: 
  3. Write a report (rule-of-thumb: 15 to 20 pages) including:
  4. The deadline for submitting your assignment (CODE(!) + report) is June 28th, 2019 at 17.00h.



Social simulation platforms

There are two simulation platforms that are widespread:





We use (most of the) the following literature, which participants for the course are advised to read for the discussions. Currently the selection of literature is still subject to change. The papers that have no link on this page can best be found using all words and authors on Google Scholar. Alternatively, you can ask your lecturer for a digital copy.

General introductions:

Computational Social Science, Social Science vs. Social Simulation

·       Computational social science is not Computer Science + Social Data

·       Underrepresentation of women in the media (example computational social science)


·       J. Gary Polhill , Dawn C. Parker , Daniel G. Brown , Volker Grimm Using the ODD protocol for comparing three agent-based social simulation models of land use change

Social concepts in social simulations

·       S. Heidari, M. Jenssen, F. Dignum. Simulations with Values

·       C. Pastrav and F. Dignum. Norms in social simulation: Balancing between realism and scalability.

·       R. Mercuur, F. Dignum and Y. Kashima. Changing Habits Using Contextualized Decision Making

·       Daniel Villatoro, Social Norms for Self-Policing Multi-agent Systems and Virtual Societies (PhD thesis)

·       Francien Dechesne, Gennaro Di Tosto, Virginia Dignum and Frank Dignum. No smoking here: values, norms and culture in multi-agent systems

·       EMIL project on social norms

Agent decision making processes

·       T. Balke and N. Gilbert. How do agents make decisions – A survey

Combining methods and models in social simulations

·       R. Martin and M. Schluter. Combining system dynamics and agent-based modeling to analyze social-ecological interactions—an example from modeling restoration of a shallow lake.

·       D. Haase, Actors and factors in land-use simulation: The challenge of urban shrinkage.

·       R. Bradhurst, A hybrid modeling approach to simulating foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in Australian livestock.

Purposes of social simulation

Agent Based Simulation vs. Data Science

·       Presentation at AI Institute

Social Network Analysis

·       J. Scott, Social Network Analysis, Sage (Book)

·       J. Scott, Social Network Analysis and Mining

Verification and Validation

·       Sargent, Verification and validation of simulation models

·       Nuno David, Nuno Fachada, and Agostinho C. Rosa, Verifying and Validating Simulations (chapter 9, Simulating social complexity)

·       K. Lubbertsen, Repeatability in simulation of large-scale agent-based social behavior

There also is literature indicated in the project descriptions that is relevant for the particular project topic.