PSC 120 (ABM)

Agent-Based Modeling (ABM)

Spring 2014

Psychology 120




Psychology, 1, 41, or permission of instructor
Some knowledge of computer programming is helpful,

Instructor: Jeff Schank


Office: 268D Young Hall

Phone: 752-6332

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 1:00-2:00 PM and by appointment

TA: Elizabeth Matthews

Office:: Young Hall 189



Office Hours: 12 to 1PM on Thursday or by appointment

Course Objectives: You will become familiar with the basic ideas, methods, and programming skill required for agent-based modeling. You will also learn how to apply these ideas and techniques to the study of social and biological systems.


Lectures and Labs:  Tuesday and Thursday: 2:10 PM-4:00 PM


Lectures and Labs: 192 (lecture and first day) 188 (lecture and lab) Young Hall



Five percent of your grade will depend on showing up and participation. Here is how it works:

Lectures Missed Points Received

Days Missed        Points
0-2                5
3                  4
4                  3
5                  2
6                  1
7 or more          0


On an approximately bi-weekly basis, assignments will be given to you that will be due the following week and sent by email to and An Assignment can be redone for a higher grade providing it was originally turned in on time. All revised assignments must be turned in by the tenth week. Assignments can be done individually or you can work together, but each person must turn in their own assignment.

Please name your file with your own name.  If I turned in an assignment, the file name for the first assignment would be:

Schank Jeff Assignment 1.docx


The course is a mixture of Lectures and Labs. There will be several labs throughout the quarter to work on programming problems and how to use and analyze agent-based models, the number, length, and frequency will be determined by the overall pace of the course. I try not to let people fall behind. Labs can be done in group. If you decide to form group, the maximum size is 3 people. If you complete a lab as a group, turn in one lab report with all your names on it. All members of a lab group will receive the same grade.


There will be three quizzes during the quarter that vary in type (i.e., some multiple choice, short answers, essays).

Final Project

Final project Template.

Course Grade

The total grade will consist of

Final Project (25%) + Assignments (25%) + Labs (30%) + Pop Quizzes (15%) + Attendance (0 to 5 Percentage points) = 100


Agent-Based Modeling (PSC 120 – Schank Instructor)

Lecture times – TTH, 2:10-4:00 PM)

1. Tuesday – April 1 – Organization and Introduction

Lecture NotesOffice-PowerPoint-iconLecture 1

2. Thursday – April 3 –  Levels of Organization, Complexity, and Causation

Lecture NotesOffice-PowerPoint-iconLecture 2

3. Tuesday – April 8 –  Agent-Based Modeling

Lecture NotesOffice-PowerPoint-iconLecture 3

Assignment 1

4. Thursday – April 10 –  Agent-Based Modeling

Lecture NotesOffice-PowerPoint-iconLecture 4

5. Tuesday – April 15 – Agent-Based Modeling

Mason zip file:  zip

Install EclipseOffice-PowerPoint-icon

Assignment 2

Quiz 1

Lecture NotesOffice-PowerPoint-icon Lecture 5

6. Thursday – April 17 – Introduction to Mason and Java Programming

7. Tuesday – April 22 –  Introduction to Mason and Java Programming + Lab

8. Thursday – April 24 –  Lab

9. Tuesday – April 29 – Introduction to Building an ABM in MASON

Assignment 3

Quiz 2

10. Thursday – May 1 –  Introduction to Building an ABM in MASON Continued …

11. Tuesday – May 6 –  Lab on Building an ABM in MASON

12. Thursday – May 8 –    Lab on Building an ABM in MASON

13. Tuesday – May 13 – How to make agents that aggregate and flock

14. Thursday – May 15 –  Lab on aggregation and flocking

15. Tuesday – May 20 –  Introduction to Human Mate Choice

Lecture NotesOffice-PowerPoint-iconMate Choice

Assignment 4

16. Thursday – May 22 –  Building ABM of Human Mate Choice

Quiz 3

17. Tuesday – May 27 –  Lab on Human Mate Choice

18. Thursday – May 29 –  Lab on Human Mate Choice

19. Tuesday – June 3 –  Discuss and start work on Final Project

20. Thursday – June 5 –  Work on Final Project

21.  June 7 –  Final Project Due