From Social Simulation to Integrative Systems Design


  1. Develop strategies to build up social simulation capacities.
  2. Suggest ways to build up an “artificial societies” community that aims at simulating real and alternative societies by means of supercomputers, grid or cloud computing.
  3. Derive proposals to establish centers for integrative systems design.


In this unit there will be organized multi-disciplinary consultations of leading experts working at the interface between computer science, economics, sociology, biology, systems science, mathematics and physics. The set of experts will be initialy determined from Thomson ISI and/or data and it will be subsequentely extended according to the suggestions and clues supplied by the first cluster of selected scientists. The main purpose of this consultation will be the support of community building, in particular the establishment of additional research, development, consultancy and education capacities in the areas of social simulation and integrative systems design. In fact, by connecting the social simulation community with natural and computer scientists, engineers, and ICT people, it will be possible to foster the creation of large-scale models of social and economic systems, and to validate and calibrate them with the data generated by the data-mining approach of computational social science (see the "Crisis Forecasting" challenge). Further on, more efforts need to be invested into the community committed to mechanism design, which is still surprisingly small, considering the fact that it has received a nobel prize recently. It is well-known that the interaction mechanisms determine the self-organization, resulting performance, and stability of a complex system. Therefore, it is important to study not only models of the mechanisms that are at work in our current social and economic systems, but also alternative mechanisms (not only alternative scenarios, as it has primarily been done in the past). While such approaches are common in computer science and some other areas (e.g. in evolutionary game theory, mathematics, and partly in physics), it seems that these methods have not been extensively applied in the socio-economic sciences so far, while they may considerably profit from such an evolutionary approach. These, however, will be crucial for the establishment of capacities in "integrative systems design", which shall address the improvement of existing systems by changing not only parameters, but also interaction mechanisms (i.e. "the rules of the game"). To avoid undesirable feedback loops and side effects, such an approach must be multi-disciplinary in nature, and therefore "integrative" ("holistic").

The final report will provide suggestions about how to build up and strengthen this important capability and, in particular, get towards what has recently been called a "policy wind tunnel" (i.e. a computer-based, "experimental device to support decision-making).


Identification of leading social simulations experts.


WP-2: Recommendations report (white paper) regarding the creation of ICT-based social simulation and integrative systems design capacities. Now available for download

Deadline for contributions

Apr 15, 2010

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