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Complexity Explorer: Introduction to Agent-based Modeling

This course will explore how to use agent-based modeling to understand and examine a widely diverse and disparate set of complex problems. During the course, we will explore why agent-based modeling is a powerful new way to understand complex systems, what kinds of systems are amenable to complex systems analysis, and how agent-based modeling has been used in the past to study everything from economics to biology to political science to business and management. We will also teach you how to build a model from the ground up and how to analyze and understand the results of a model using the NetLogo programming language. We will also discuss how to build models that are sound and rigorous. No programming background or knowledge is required, and the methods examined will be useable in any number of different fields.

63 Student
reviews
Cost Free Online Course
Pace Upcoming
Subject Programming
Institution Santa Fe Institute
Language English
Certificates Certificate Available
Calendar

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Reviews for Complexity Explorer's Introduction to Agent-based Modeling
4.6 Based on 63 reviews

  • 5 stars 75%
  • 4 stars 17%
  • 3 stars 6%
  • 2 star 0%
  • 1 star 2%

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  • 1
5.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I took this course primarily because I had enjoyed precious offerings from Complexity Explorer. I had very little programming background, and my expectations for this course were mixed, given that, at first sight, NetLogo looks a little clunky with 1990's style graphics. I also had the impression that ABM was a "soft" discipline.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I quickly came to appreciate that the point of ABM is the insights it delivers about otherwise intractable problems not the quality of the graphics. Bill Rand brings this out in a well-paced, almost gentle way. However before I knew it, I was immersed in the stuff. By the end of the course I felt that I knew Bill quite well. This is an illusion but it speaks to his friendly delivery.

To get the full benefit of this course, I would not recommend auditing or skimming. This is one MOOC where the real benefit comes from actually producing NetLogo models. If you don't have a programming background, you
Read more
I took this course primarily because I had enjoyed precious offerings from Complexity Explorer. I had very little programming background, and my expectations for this course were mixed, given that, at first sight, NetLogo looks a little clunky with 1990's style graphics. I also had the impression that ABM was a "soft" discipline.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I quickly came to appreciate that the point of ABM is the insights it delivers about otherwise intractable problems not the quality of the graphics. Bill Rand brings this out in a well-paced, almost gentle way. However before I knew it, I was immersed in the stuff. By the end of the course I felt that I knew Bill quite well. This is an illusion but it speaks to his friendly delivery.

To get the full benefit of this course, I would not recommend auditing or skimming. This is one MOOC where the real benefit comes from actually producing NetLogo models. If you don't have a programming background, you may well need to allow more time than is suggested. It's not as easy as Bill makes it look.

Finally, the quality of a MOOC is heavily impacted by the liveliness of the forums and the ABM forum was well supported by both learners and instructors

All round I was very pleasantly surprised, and heartily commend the course

1 person found
this review helpful
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3.0 6 months ago
Tim Tröndle completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
The lecturer is an expert in agent-based modelling which is very valuable for this course. Personally I do not think I learnt a lot from it though, and that's partly because the course covers to a large fraction NetLogo and its features. A good part of this does not help you to understand Agent-based Modeling, but only NetLogo better. This might be fine to some or many students, but I think it should be made more clear in the course description.

Other than that there were a few other downsides: the course content could have a partial redesign in my opinion as some things are introduced in an odd order. In general, the target audience doesn't seem to be clearly defined. As an example, there is a unit with data analysis in R. For a beginner with low to zero programming skills it was very fast; for someone with programmatic data analysis skills it was too slow or even simply unnecessary. Lastly, I found it difficult sometimes to follow the videos because of the presentation s
Read more
The lecturer is an expert in agent-based modelling which is very valuable for this course. Personally I do not think I learnt a lot from it though, and that's partly because the course covers to a large fraction NetLogo and its features. A good part of this does not help you to understand Agent-based Modeling, but only NetLogo better. This might be fine to some or many students, but I think it should be made more clear in the course description.

Other than that there were a few other downsides: the course content could have a partial redesign in my opinion as some things are introduced in an odd order. In general, the target audience doesn't seem to be clearly defined. As an example, there is a unit with data analysis in R. For a beginner with low to zero programming skills it was very fast; for someone with programmatic data analysis skills it was too slow or even simply unnecessary. Lastly, I found it difficult sometimes to follow the videos because of the presentation style, as there were a lot of filler words for example.

All in all I think this course has potential, especially due to the experience of the lecturer, but it can be improved.
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1.0 6 months ago
Anonymous partially completed this course.
This course is the poorest programming course i ever attend!

1. In general, the course is all like reading out loud the textbook.

2. Short and insufficient programming lectures.

3. 70% is not about simulation in Netlogo at all.

4. Poor teaching, the instructor fails to deliver the course content, poor educative language and skills.

5. Lack of self-evaluation, exercises and proper quizzes. you will not found out that where you are, at which levels you are, how much you actually learn. The instructor introduce a project but it's peer review who actually may not learned properly to judge.

no feedback at all.

6. The course has advertise oriented content about Netlogo.

7. Long course (9 week) without rich content.

I suggest if anyone want to learn Netlogo, there is some exercises in "introduction to Complexity" which beautifully addressed use of Netlogo in the context. I ac
Read more
This course is the poorest programming course i ever attend!

1. In general, the course is all like reading out loud the textbook.

2. Short and insufficient programming lectures.

3. 70% is not about simulation in Netlogo at all.

4. Poor teaching, the instructor fails to deliver the course content, poor educative language and skills.

5. Lack of self-evaluation, exercises and proper quizzes. you will not found out that where you are, at which levels you are, how much you actually learn. The instructor introduce a project but it's peer review who actually may not learned properly to judge.

no feedback at all.

6. The course has advertise oriented content about Netlogo.

7. Long course (9 week) without rich content.

I suggest if anyone want to learn Netlogo, there is some exercises in "introduction to Complexity" which beautifully addressed use of Netlogo in the context. I actually learn Netlogo there more than this course!

Do not purchase!
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4.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Very nice course. The topics of the lessons were meaningful and complete. You don't need previous experience in modeling nor in programming for taking this course. The first weeks give you an easy-to-underst and overview of the different types of models, why agent based models are useful and where can you apply them. The later weeks go deeper and features advanced abm techniques.

The lessons are example-based and are very concerete, so you can make use of the knowledge right away. I didn't give this couse 5 stars because the platform is yet inmature (has some bugs), and the proffesors seem to have no previous experience with online courses, thus the videos could be improved (for example, there are too much filler words). This might be a little annoying but should not prevent you from taking full advantage of the course.
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4.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Coming from a background of no previous experience with Agent-Based Modeling in general (and Netlogo in particular), this course is a great introduction: accessible and easy to follow, the core of this course will take you through the basic theoretical concepts to building your first model.

Obviously, being a novice, there were certain times where some subjects felt a bit overwhelming but the forum and office hours were extremely helpful and made sure that I was never too lost.

The only less positive aspects I have to mention were some of the units (particularly the one that relates to the use of R) feeling a bit rushed, and a couple of problems with the course site (particularly its peer-review system) that were eventually fixed.
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4.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Completed all modules, but did not build a model. I was more interested in applications of ABM and how it works, rather than spending so much time with coding. Course was very effective--videos with split screens (computer screen plus lecturer face was a very effective learning tool). However, for those of us who what to learn more about how ABM is applied and methodology, rather than pure coding, you might consider in the future breaking ABM into two courses. One, how to build ABM models; and two with more emphasis on history, methods and going through real world applications in addition to demonstration models.
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3.0 6 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The content was not dense enough, there were too many videos for the amount of knowledge gained. Most of what you need to learn about making an agent-based model is contained in half of unit 4, which was very instructive, but most of the rest was dispensable in my opinion. Of course it was general knowledge about ABMs, but I needn't have spent 10 weeks watching videos about it.
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5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
For me this course was an important step forward in learning modeling after finding out about NetLogo in 'Model Thinking' course by Scott Page. Coming from the field of medicine and being passionate about modeling for several decades I did not expect that adding programming skills to this would be easy. But this course by Professor Rand @ Complexity explorer made me to change my attitude. Thus, the most attracting and valuable aspect of the course which guided my decision to enroll was the possibility to build a program for scratch. And it was indeed true. Of course it would be naive to consider that after this course I will become a skilled programmer, but it can serve as a very comprehensive road map to farther exploration of this field and effective leverage for creating new models. I would specially mention instructor's friendly and professional delivery. And finally, I really enjoyed the course and would recommend it to anyone with interest in ABM.
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5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Great course and subject matter. The cost and payment system is very reasonable. I chose to pay slightly more than the minimum fee for the course, but still feel I got amazing value for money. Thank you to Complexity Explorer and its financial supporters for making this high quality course available all around the world at such a generous rate. Bill Rand is awesome and really knows his stuff (he co-wrote the definitive introductory textbook with Uri Wilensky, author of Netlogo). The course moves at a pretty comfortable pace, though complete beginners may find some later sections require closer attention/revision (so pay attention!). We got to design our own working model which was very satisfying and a great way to jump straight in to programming with Netlogo. On the whole I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in ABM.
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5.0 a year ago
by Albert Liem completed this course.
It is an "almost complete" review* of agent-based modeling, in terms of "history", ideas or concepts and their significance and applications. Professor Rand's style of delivery of lectures suits the way I learn, by giving examples when time plus other conditions warrant it, and references otherwise. I now feel that I have a very good "road map" to go deeper into agent-based modeling in the areas in which I am interested.

* quotation marks used to indicate that being a novice I had (and really still have) NO idea what constitutes complete coverage of the subject of agent-based modelling :-)
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5.0 a year ago
by Simon Crase is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Excellent course, clearly explained. I've spent time on building models of things that interest me, in addition to the work required for the course. I'd recommend it for anyone interested in biology, social sciences, or ecology who wants to get beyond hand waving arguments and actually see whether a idea has a chance of working in practice. You are still only dealing with models, but you can at least see whether the model will hand together.

Good forums, with plenty of lively discussion. IMHO this is vital for any course.
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5.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The Introduction to Agent Based Modeling on the Santa Fe Institute's Complexity Explorer site is a solid introduction to ABM and use of Netlogo software tool. It covers a range of topics, from introductory to advanced and prepares students for further exploration of ABM. The course includes numerous examples, and is taught in a hands-on manner that builds student knowledge and skill. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand the power and utility of ABM.
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5.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent coverage of Agent-Based Modelling: the history, the future, but, above all, the practicalities of designing, developing, verifying, validating and analyzing a model. I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to develop or use an Agent-Based Model, or to understand the results of another model.

The courses comes from Santa Fe Institute, and it every bit as good as one might expect from such a prestigious organization.
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5.0 a year ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
It was not my first contact with NetLogo, but the fact that it talks about advanced stuff is great. Even if it doesn't go in-depth because it's an introductory course, we can explore these things by ourselves later. Bill explains everything very well with examples, and he goes through forum questions and e-mails on office hours live streams, so nothing more to ask of him.

Like Brendan Sullivan would say about Fight Club, it's a solid 5/7.
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5.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The course provides a complete guide to begin with Agent-based Modeling, based on NetLogo. The theoretical basis of ABM is comprehensively explained, so this is much more than a course about a tool for modeling. It's a course about when, why, and how to use Agent-Based Modeling to analyze and explain phenomena. There are lots of examples to learn, and the process of learning is perfectly guided through the sucessive Units.
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5.0 6 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I am excited with the model which I manage to create in such a short time due to the course. I developed an information sharing supply chain, which compares individual forecasting vs group forecasting in different market types, sizes and also considers consumer loyalty (e.g. promotion strategies). The forecasting was made with extension R by using extreme learning machine algorithm.
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5.0 6 months ago
by José Luis Estévez Navarro partially completed this course, spending 7 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The course is very educational. Furthermore, Bill Rand is an excellent professor. One really feels he is there, answering doubts, providing feedback, etc. Only to have the chance of knowing him better this course worths being taken. Besides, this is one of those courses that make you feel you are acquiring skills that could be practical in your research or professional life.
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4.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Great learning experience - introduces you to an easy-to-use programming environment with enough of the computer science to feel competent, a lot of add-ons and discussions to inspire, and none of the jargon to discourage.

Brilliant course for people from different disciplines who are interested in the use of code for simulations, education and modelling.
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4.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
NetLogo offers insights to modellers in numerous subject areas and this variety of applications could be emphasised more. Some of the exams need to be revised to reduce ambiguity. This course is extremely useful and will, over time, become a really excellent introduction to the subject. I found the instructor to be both very helpful and expert.
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5.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
A sufficiently deep and broad introduction in Agent-Based Modeling. In addition, the software used (Netlogo) has indeed "low threshold but high ceiling" for those with little experience with programming. Add to this a great instructor and an interdisciplinary learner community full of interesting ideas and you get a wornderful learning experience.
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