Agent-based complex systems are dynamic networks of many interacting agents; examples include ecosystems, financial markets, and cities. The search for general principles underlying the internal organization of such systems often uses bottom-up simulation models such as cellular automata and agent-based models. No general framework for designing, testing, and analyzing bottom-up models has yet been established, but recent advances in ecological modeling have come together in a general strategy we call pattern-oriented modeling. This strategy provides a unifying framework for decoding the internal organization of agent-based complex systems and may lead toward unifying algorithmic theories of the relation between adaptive behavior and system complexity.
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