Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


The Role of Dynamic-Network
Multi-Agent Models of Socio-Polical Systems in Policy

Marcus A. Louie, Kathleen M. Carley

January 2007

CASOS Technical Report


Keywords: Multi-agent modeling, validation, social network modeling, simulation, social systems

Researchers and policy makers are increasingly turning to multi-agent and dynamic-network multi-agent models to study real-world systems. The models hold particular appeal because of their intuitive representation of complex real-world systems that can be thought of as "complex systems." Both policy makers and those affected by the policies influenced by these models often question whether a model is valid. We explore the intended use of these models, the extent to which they can be validated, and the consequent implications for their use in setting policy. We ground the analysis using a dynamic-network multi-agent model we are helping to develop called the Regional Threat Evaluator (RTE), applied to data from Indonesia and Thailand. We find that there are three core difficulties in validating these models: defining the appropriate operating domain, data availability, and validating a model that integrates multiple theories.

41 pages

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