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Simulating Society

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: Computer simulation offers a powerful tool for studying human social behavior, contends Richard J. Gaylord of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A theoretical physicist turned computational sociologist, Gaylord has developed models of social phenomena that focus on interactions between individuals, each having his or her own identity, traits, tastes, and memories. "In setting up a simulation of a group of people, we create a society of individuals," Gaylord notes. That means generating a list numerically characterizing each individual represented in the model, putting the digital "people" on a grid (one individual per lattice site), then allowing them to interact according to a set of rules specifying what happens as they move about on the grid...

Levels: Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles, Mathematica
Math Topics: Cellular Automata, Economics, Sociology/Anthropology

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