Speaker: Iza Romanowska
Affiliation: Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark and Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Spain
Title: Introduction to Agent-based Modelling for Humanities and Beyond
Abstract: The books have been read, closely and distantly, the words have been counted in all their inflections, and the pots have been classified into thousands of types. What do we do next with our data? The last decade witnessed a quantum leap in humanities scholarship as researchers moved on from describing individual data points to detecting patterns in datasets. Now is the time to take another step, this time from detecting patterns in data to explaining them. To do so, we need simulation.
In simple terms, simulation is a formal representation of hypotheses that allow us to see how likely these ideas are given the data. It can replace experiments or direct observation in cases where the subjects of our study are not easily accessible. For those of us who study people that lived 20, 200, or 2000 years ago this may be the only way to understand what processes and mechanisms were behind historical events or social trends we detect in our data. Agent-based modelling (ABM) is the primary tool in this endeavour. While it is one of many simulation techniques it lends itself particularly well to human-centred research as it cuts down the need for maths. It is a simple yet powerful technique that can push your research to completely new and previously unimaginable territories.
In this talk, I will introduce simulation, agent-based modelling and its epistemological foundations and showcase the innovative ways in which we can use these techniques to better understand the interactions between individuals and their social and natural environments. I will talk about the potential and limitations of computational modelling in disciplines studying the past and highlight the range of possible applications. Finally, I will try to sketch out how profound this transition to formal theory development is for our field as a whole.
Agent-based Modeling for Archaeology: Simulating the Complexity of Societies