EP90 Joshua Epstein on Agent-Based Modeling



Joshua Epstein talks to Jim about agent-based modeling, differential equations, computational archeology, COVID-19 failures, and much more…

Joshua Epstein

Joshua Epstein talks to Jim about Agent-Based Modeling (ABM) as a powerful tool in the social sciences. They start with the history of Sugarscape, an early ABM framework, the dynamics of ABM systems, types of agents, ABM vs models based on systems of differential equations, predicting vs explaining systems, Axelrod’s demonstration of emergent racial segregation, computational archeology, the role of parameters in ABM, inverse evolutionary techniques, Josh’s agent zero dynamics, the role of emotion in agents, COVID-19 response failures & lack of competent leadership, R0 misconceptions, superspreaders, and more.

Episode Transcript

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Joshua Epstein is Professor of Epidemiology in the NYU College of Global Public Health, and founding Director of the NYU Agent-Based Modeling Laboratory, with affiliated appointments at The Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and the College of Arts & Sciences.

Prior to joining NYU, he was Professor of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins, and Director of the Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavior, and Health Sciences, with Joint appointments in Economics, Applied Mathematics, International Health, and Biostatistics. Before that, he was Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and Director of the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics. His research interest has been modeling complex social dynamics using mathematical and computational methods, notably the method of Agent-Based Modeling in which he is a recognized pioneer. For this transformative innovation, he was awarded the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2008, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Amherst College in 2010, and was elected to the Society of Sigma XI in 2018.


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