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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.

39 Student
reviews
Cost Free Online Course
Pace Upcoming
Subject Programming
Institution Santa Fe Institute
Language English
Certificates Certificate Available
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What are MOOCs?
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These are free online courses from universities around the world (eg. Stanford Harvard MIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you.  They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.

39 reviews for Complexity Explorer's Introduction to Agent-based Modeling

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
4 months ago
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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" 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

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4 months ago
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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. T Read More
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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6 months ago
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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, Read More
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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5 months ago
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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 wh Read More
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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6 months ago
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 h Read More
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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7 months ago
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 o Read More
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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6 months ago
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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 Read More
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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6 months ago
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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 c Read More
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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6 months ago
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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 off Read More
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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6 months ago
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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 a Read More
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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6 months ago
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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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6 months ago
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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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4 months ago
Qin Xu completed this course.
Great NetLogo course at the introductory level! This course comprehensively introduce the topics for Netlogo, which includes the elements, architecture, how to analysis, and history. The program task provides a chance to practice what I learn from this course. Over all, I'm very glad to take this course. Thank you.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This was an excellent course both for beginners and for those who are more experienced in Agent Based Modeling. Dr. Rand presented the information in an understandable fashion. There was excellent support for questions and learning between the classes via the online forum and weekly YouTube live office hours.

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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Just enough to boost interest in subject and to give anything necessary for further studies in the field. On the same time it is not overcomplicated. Moreover, Professor Bill Rand is the best online lecturer I've ever seen. Very charismatic. I was never been bored during the course. Strongly recommend!
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
This is a great course for anyone interested in developing ABMs on their own. You don't need to be a programmer, although the course might seem a bit fast-paced if this is your first experience in programming. Great use of practical examples in Netlogo and analyzing resulting data using R.
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6 months ago
Paul Hart completed this course.
The course provides a clear introduction to the benefits and uses of AGMs. It also gives useful tips on how to program using NetLogo although if starting from scratch with the language you will have to do quite a bit of work on your own to get to the point where you can write code with ease.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Really complete and useful course, gather all the necessary knowledge you need to start creating, analyzing and validating agent based models.

Well grounded because is based in NetLogo's creator book.

If you are interested in ABMs, i highly recommend taking this course.
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6 months ago
Arturo Melo Roman completed this course.
The course was very good, with lots of contents and new ideas for me. The teacher was great, because he used good examples, so it was easy to understand. Now, I have a lot of tools to understand my problem and use with my project. Thanks.
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5 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
A great course; but, be sure to put some of your life on hold. I needed a few more hours per week than expected or prepared for, But, the course was worth every penny and every bit of effort. Still, lots more to learn and that's on me.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Great course, covered from the very basics through to a fair level of advanced material, and a very useful overview of the history of ABMs. Incredibly useful for someone without a background in computing disciplines. Well worth the modest fee.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent syllabus, covers the overall concepts as well as making programming Netlogo very accessible to non-programmers. Yet, also has a high ceiling - covers advanced topics that gives anyone more advanced a way into very sophisticated work.
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5 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Bill Rand is an exceptional teacher guiding his students through an in-depth, life-changing experience with Netlogo and agent-based modeling. I'm hopeful there will be more Netlogo courses, taught by Bill Rand, to come!
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Great course - I started off not really knowing much about ABM, and now I feel like I can create my own ABMs and understand some of the work that goes on in this field of study. Bill is a good tutor as well.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous audited this course.
Overall a great course - teaching not only model creation, but also exploration of other models and examples. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in learning modelling in Netlogo.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Top benefits of taking this course: 1) great way to learn Netlogo 2) the many examples explored in this course provide a deeper understanding of complexity theory. I recommend this course.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous is taking this course right now.
An excellent class! Gets into the "weeds" of complexity--a good thing! I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in complexity. I have paid far more for much less!
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6 months ago
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Anonymous is taking this course right now.
excellent course, practical session for beginners in agent based modeling with many applications in different areas of knowldge from social sciences to natural sciences
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5 months ago
Luciano Villalba completed this course.
It is in my opinion an excellent introduction to agent based modelling. Prof. Randers has a lot of experience in the topic and he share it with students at every moment.
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7 months ago
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Anonymous is taking this course right now.
Excellent course I learned how to code more efficiently, and is better have a professor instance only the book text. He explain very good so you can understand the easy way.
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6 months ago
Gabriel Paiva Rega completed this course.
Really complete, with well organized theory and plenty of hands on experience working on programs and with the software. Very helpful instructor.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous partially completed this course.
Completed with the exception of projects/peer review since my time constraints did not allow me to put the necessary time to evaluate projects properly
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6 months ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
The course helped me start with NetLogo and Agent-Based Modeling. modeling. The lecturer delivered it very well. I highly recommend the course.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous is taking this course right now.
Good presentation of materials and pacing. It allowed for flexibility of projects to make the experience worthwhile whatever you expertise.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous partially completed this course.
A very good online course on ABM to begin with.

If more details on coding/programming could be added, it will be better.
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6 months ago
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Anonymous partially completed this course.
This course is the best to learn about Agent Simulation. For beginners there are enough tools to start with this.
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8 months ago
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Anonymous is taking this course right now.
A great course on a very hot topic. I suggest to anyone willing to expand her\his box of tools in social sciences
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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful
6 months ago
Jawhar Albacha completed this course.
The course materials are good but the professor gets annoying sometimes. The tests and assignments are good and coherent with the course
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6 months ago
Gaute Friis completed this course.
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