Replicating complex agent based models, a formidable task

Elizabeth Donkin, Peter Dennis, Andrey Ustalakov, John Warren, Amanda Clare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)
186 Downloads (Pure)


Promoting replication of models is unarguably a positive step for agent based modelling, as replication promotes rigorous testing. Model replication remains rare, yet is vital to assessing the repeatability of existing agent based models. Notably, more work is needed to assess cross platform and language replication, which represent potential sources of variability between model results. An existing, complex agent based model was replicated using two widely used platforms (NetLogo and Repast). When results generated by the models were compared, the findings differed not only in magnitude but the trends produced by the data, resulting in different conclusions being drawn from each set of model predictions. The variation between the models is believed to be a result of the complexity of encoding a substantial theoretical model in particular programming languages. This highlights the express need to document replication of existing models in order to fully understand the potential limitations to replication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-151
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Early online date27 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2017


  • agent-based model
  • individual-based model
  • model replicatioon
  • NetLogo
  • open code
  • repast


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