An "all hands" call to the social science community: Establishing a community framework for complexity modeling using agent based models and cyberinfrastructure

Lilian Na Alessa, Melinda Laituri, C Michael Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


To date, many communities of practice (COP) in the social sciences have been struggling with how to deal with rapidly growing bodies of information. Many CoPs across broad disciplines have turned to community frameworks for complexity modeling (CFCMs) but this strategy has been slow to be discussed let alone adopted by the social sciences communities of practice (SS-CoPs). In this paper we urge the SS-CoPs that it is timely to develop and establish a CBCF for the social sciences for two major reasons: the rapid acquisition of data and the emergence of critical cybertools which can facilitate agent-based, spatially-explicit models. The goal of this paper is not to prescribe how a CFCM might be set up but to suggest of what components it might consist and what its advantages would be. Agent based models serve the establishment of a CFCM because they allow robust and diverse inputs and are amenable to output-driven modifications. In other words, as phenomena are resolved by a SS-CoP it is possible to adjust and refine ABMs (and their predictive ability) as a recursive and collective process. Existing and emerging cybertools such as computer networks, digital data collections and advances in programming languages mean the SSCoP must now carefully consider committing the human organization to enabling a cyberinfrastructure tool. The combination of technologies with human interfaces can allow scenarios to be incorporated through 'if 'then' rules and provide a powerful basis for addressing the dynamics of coupled and complex social ecological systems (cSESs). The need for social scientists to be more engaged participants in the growing challenges of characterizing chaotic, self-organizing social systems and predicting emergent patterns makes the application of ABMs timely. The enabling of a SS-CoP CFCM human- cyberinfrastructure represents an unprecedented opportunity to synthesize, compare and evaluate diverse sociological phenomena as a cohesive and recursive community-driven process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 31 2006


  • Community-Based Complex Models
  • Mathematics
  • Social Sciences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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