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The Code is the Model


Meisser, Luzius (2017). The Code is the Model. International Journal of Microsimulation, 10(3):184-201.

Abstract

Conventionally, agent-based models are specified in a combination of natural language and mathematical terms, and their implementation seen as an afterthought. I challenge this view and argue that it is the source code that represents the model best, with natural language and mathematical descriptions serving as documentation. This modeling paradigm is inspired by agile software development and adopting it leads to various - mostly beneficial - consequences. First, discrepancies between the specification documents and what the model actually does are eliminated by definition as the code becomes the specification. Second, replicability is greatly improved. Third, object-oriented programming is recognized as an integral part of a modeler?s skill set. Forth, tools and methods from software engineering can support the modeling process, making it more agile. Fifth, increased modularity allows to better manage complexity and enables the collaborative construction of large models. Sixth, the way models are published needs to be reconsidered, with source code ideally being part of the peer review. Seventh, the quality of source code in science is improved as it enjoys more importance, attention and scrutiny.

Abstract

Conventionally, agent-based models are specified in a combination of natural language and mathematical terms, and their implementation seen as an afterthought. I challenge this view and argue that it is the source code that represents the model best, with natural language and mathematical descriptions serving as documentation. This modeling paradigm is inspired by agile software development and adopting it leads to various - mostly beneficial - consequences. First, discrepancies between the specification documents and what the model actually does are eliminated by definition as the code becomes the specification. Second, replicability is greatly improved. Third, object-oriented programming is recognized as an integral part of a modeler?s skill set. Forth, tools and methods from software engineering can support the modeling process, making it more agile. Fifth, increased modularity allows to better manage complexity and enables the collaborative construction of large models. Sixth, the way models are published needs to be reconsidered, with source code ideally being part of the peer review. Seventh, the quality of source code in science is improved as it enjoys more importance, attention and scrutiny.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Banking and Finance
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:December 2017
Deposited On:21 Mar 2018 13:08
Last Modified:13 Apr 2018 11:43
Publisher:International Microsimulation Association
ISSN:1747-5864
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://microsimulation.org/IJM/V10_3/IJM_2017_10_3_6.pdf
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:16260

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