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Ontology, a mediator for agent-based modeling in social science

Livet P., Müller J.P., Phan D., Sanders L., Auatabu T.. 2010. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 13 (1) : 14 p..

DOI: 10.18564/jasss.1538

Agent-Based Models are useful to describe and understand social, economic and spatial systems' dynamics. But, beside the facilities which this methodology offers, evaluation and comparison of simulation models are sometimes problematic. A rigorous conceptual frame needs to be developed. This is in order to ensure the coherence in the chain linking at the one extreme the scientist's hypotheses about the modeled phenomenon and at the other the structure of rules in the computer program. This also systematizes the model design from the thematician conceptual framework as well. The aim is to reflect upon the role that a well defined ontology, based on the crossing of the philosophical and the computer science insights, can play to solve such questions and help the model building. We analyze different conceptions of ontology, introduce the 'ontological test' and show its usefulness to compare models. Then we focus on the model building and show the place of a systematic ABM ontology. The latter process is situated within a larger framework called the 'knowledge framework' in which not only the ontologies but also the notions of theory, model and empirical data take place. At last the relation between emergence and ontology is discussed.

Mots-clés : sciences sociales; ontologie; application des ordinateurs; modèle de simulation; méthodologie; modélisation; système multiagents

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