Homepage for Econ 308

Agent-Based Computational Economics (ACE):
Growing Economies from the Bottom Up

Last Updated: 16 October 2020

Last Course Offering: Spring 2009

Leigh Tesfatsion
Research Professor & Professor Emerita of Economics
Courtesy Research Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Department of Economics
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011-1070
tesfatsi AT iastate.edu
ACE Logo

(Graphic by T. Eymann)

Syllabus (Reading & Exercise Assignments)
Exam Policy Information
Exercise Policy Information
Course Project Information
ACE Website
Course Objectives
Course Credits
Course Prerequisites
Course Activities
Course Grading
Background Texts
Software Resources
Disability Statement

The Web https://faculty.sites.iastate.edu/tesfatsi/archive/econ308/tesfatsion/

Course Objectives:

Modern economies are complex open-ended dynamic systems that can sometimes go awry. How to get a handle on this complexity?

One approach is to model an economy computationally as a "virtual world" populated by interacting "agents." These agents can include people, social groupings, institutions, and/or biological and physical entities.

The developer of the virtual world specifies the initial states of the agents comprising the economy. One objective might be to study current empirical conditions. Another objective might be to study hypothetical conditions of interest in order to see what happens. Once the initial agent states are set, the virtual world runs forward in time driven by agent interactions, much like a bacteria culture grows in a laboratory petri dish.

Econ 308 introduces students to this exciting new virtual-world methodology for the study of economic systems. Tentatively scheduled course topics include:

As indicated at the following site, agent-based modeling is now supporting scientific research and technology for a wide variety of commercial applications:
50 Facts About Agent-Based Modeling (pdf,6M)

Course Credits:

Three credits. Graduate students can enroll in Econ 308 for non-major credit. Econ 308 is cross-listed as an HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) course.

Course Prerequisites:

Principles-level microeconomics (or instructor permission), and a willingness to learn and apply simple programming tools. Previous study of programming is desirable but not required. For more info, see the Econ 308 course syllabus or contact Leigh Tesfatsion.

Course Activities:

Course Grading:

Student grades will be based on:
  1. an in-class written midterm exam scheduled for Thursday March 12 (30 percent);
  2. assigned take-home and/or in-class exercises related to required readings (30 percent);
  3. general attendance and participation in class discussion(15 percent);
  4. a written course project report on some student-selected topic related to ACE, due on the last day of class (25 percent).

Please visit the Midterm Exam Information Site for more information about the midterm exam.

Regarding take-home exercises, for some of these exercises students will be assigned to small exercise teams. An attempt will be made to ensure that each team includes students with background training in both economics and computer programming. These exercise teams will be asked to work together on assigned exercises. For more detailed information about course policy regarding exercise assignments, please visit the Exercise Policy Information Site.

Students will also be encouraged (but not required) to work in self-selected teams for their course projects. Project topic areas and scope can be tailored to student backgrounds and interests as long as the relationship of the project to Econ 308 course materials is clearly demonstrated. For more detailed information about course projects, including suggested project topics, please visit the Course Project Information Site.

Background Texts:

Software Resources (recommended for students interested in doing original programming and/or experiments for their course projects):

Disability Statement:

If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the instructor early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Resources (DR) office, located on the main floor of the Student Services Building, Room 1076, 515-294-7220.