Potentialities and limitations of agent-based simulations : an introduction
The article has a general goal : it overviews the main theoretical and methodological dimensions structuring the field of research relying on agent-based modeling and simulation. It also has a more specific aim, namely to help the reader better to understand the contributions the special issue the Revue Française de Sociologie accepted to devote to this method. To meet both requirements, the article addresses the following points : 1) the originality of agent-based modeling and simulation ; 2) the kind of explanation implemented by this method ; 3) the method’s computational root ; 4) its flexibility in dealing with the “micro-macro transition” problem ; 5) the link one can establish between agent-based modeling and empirical data ; 6) the critiques usually received by this method.
Keywords. ROBUSTNESS ANALYSIS – SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS – CELLULAR AUTOMATA – CALIBRATION – EXPLICATION – SOCIAL INTERACTIONS – SOCIAL MECHANISMS – MICROSIMULATION –
GENERATIVE MODELS – MATHEMATICAL MODELS – ACTION THEORY – MICROMACRO TRANSITION – AGENT-BASED SIMULATION – NUMERICAL SIMULATION – VALIDATION