Agents of creation - Artificial "agents" can model complex systems

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They certainly cannot be faulted for a lack of ambition. The scientists and engineers who gathered this week in Oxford for the first International Workshop on Complex Agent-Based Dynamic Networks are seeking to explain much of the world's behaviour through the use of “agents”. In this context, an agent is a program that acts in a self-interested manner in its dealings with numerous other agents inside a computer. This arrangement can mimic almost any interactive system: a stockmarket; a habitat; even a business supply-chain. If the constituent parts can be understood, the reasoning goes, some insight into the whole will follow.

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