Simulations I: Methodology

  • Claudio Cioffi-Revilla
Part of the Texts in Computer Science book series (TCS)


Social simulation is the fourth major area of Computational Social Science (CSS). Social simulations are used in CSS as artificial worlds for conducting virtual experiments, analyzing scenarios, and exploring alternative pasts and futures. In a sense, social simulations are spatio-temporal machines used by CSS researchers to explore the social universe in unique ways that are not accessible through other scientific instruments. This chapter introduces the reader to the methodology of social simulations. This is done in terms of a general “life cycle” framework that begins with research questions and develops through stages of modeling, implementation, verification, validation, analysis, and communication. This process is cyclical, not linear, although the exposition of the process is necessarily sequential. In practice, feedback from consecutive stages of simulation model development is used to improve previous and subsequent stages. What matters most is maintaining quality control throughout the process in order to be able to analyze a model that can be trusted. Complex social simulations are a breed apart, comprised of relatively large teams consisting of multi-disciplinary specialists, multi-institutional arrangements, and multi-year duration. The chapter also presents several major types of simulations, including variable-oriented models and object-oriented models, which are examined in detail in the next two chapters.


Research Question Simulation System Social Complexity Virtual Experiment Social Simulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Recommended Readings

  1. H.R. Alker Jr., R.D. Brunner, Simulating international conflict: a comparison of three approaches. Int. Stud. Q. 13(1), 70–110 (1969) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. O. Balci, Verification, validation, and testing, in Handbook of Simulation, vol. 10, (1998), pp. 335–393 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. J.L. Casti, Would-Be Worlds: How Simulation is Changing the Frontiers of Science (Wiley, New York, 1997) Google Scholar
  4. C. Cioffi-Revilla, On the methodology of complex social simulations. J. Artif. Soc. Soc. Simul. 13(1), 7 (2010). Available online Google Scholar
  5. C. Cioffi-Revilla, Comparing agent-based computational simulation models in cross-cultural research. Cross-Cult. Res. 45(2), 1–23 (2011) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. C. Cioffi-Revilla, Computer simulation, in Leadership in Science and Technology: A Reference Handbook. Volume 1: General Principles, ed. by W.S. Bainbridge (Sage, Thousand Oaks, 2012), pp. 345–354 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. B. Edmonds, R. Meyer (eds.), Simulating Social Complexity (Springer, Berlin, 2013) Google Scholar
  8. W.G. Kennedy, C.R. Cotla, T. Gulden, M. Coletti, C. Cioffi-Revilla, Towards validating a model of households and societies of East Africa, in Proceedings of the Fourth World Congress in Social Simulation (WCSS 2012), Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China (2012) Google Scholar
  9. C.A. Lave, J.G. March, An Introduction to Models in the Social Sciences (University Press of America, Lanham, 1993) Google Scholar
  10. J. Rouchier, C. Cioffi-Revilla, J.G. Polhill, K. Takadama, Progress in model-to-model analysis. J. Artif. Soc. Soc. Simul. 11(2–8) (2008) Google Scholar
  11. R.G. Sargent, Verification and validation of simulation models, in Proceedings of the 40th Winter Simulation Conference, WSC'09, (2008), pp. 157–169. Available online Google Scholar
  12. R.K. Sawyer, Social explanation and computational simulation. Philos. Explor. 7(3), 219–231 (2004) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. F. Squazzoni (ed.), Epistemological Aspects of Computer Simulation in the Social Sciences (Springer, Heidelberg, 2009) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudio Cioffi-Revilla
    • 1
  1. 1.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

Personalised recommendations