The term computer simulation is related to the usage of a computational model in order to improve the understanding of a system's behavior and/or to evaluate strategies for its operation, in explanatory or predictive schemes. There are cases in which practical or ethical reasons make it impossible to realize direct observations: in these cases, the possibility of realizing 'in-machina' experiments may represent the only way to study, analyze and evaluate models of those realities. Different situations and systems are characterized by the presence of autonomous entities whose local behaviors (actions and interactions) determine the evolution of the overall system; agent-based models are particularly suited to support the definition of models of such systems, but also to support the design and implementation of simulators. Agent-Based models and Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) have been adopted to simulate very different kinds of complex systems, from the simulation of socio-economic systems to the elaboration of scenarios for logistics optimization, from biological systems to urban planning. This paper discusses the specific aspects of this approach to modeling and simulation from the perspective of Informatics, describing the typical elements of an agent-based simulation model and the relevant research.
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