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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Managing Business Complexity

Just received and have been exploring the book: Managing Business Complexity: Discovering Strategic Solutions with Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation by Michael J. North and Charles M Macal. The Amazon link is a 'search inside the book' so you can take a quick look. The second chapter 'The ABMS Paradigm' is an especially useful and relatively detailed introduction of the idea. The following chapter gives you an idea about what agents are all about, and why you should care. Later chapters are more academic, but also include examples of both approach and business problems being addressed by these models. Of particular interest, a store simulation model.

I was struck while scanning and reading parts of this book by how similar this approach is to the AI methods of the 90s. What it adds to the idea is the aspect of the agent, a simple entity that forms the basis of the modeling approach. And, finally, but also very important, these models are all simulations, often adaptive, that need to be understood statistically.

The authors are practitioners of this form of modeling at Argonne National Labs, and are consultants for ABM work. I have heard North talk on the topic and he knows the approach very well. I saw some early drafts of this book as well. Recommended.

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