|Hauhs, M; Trancón y Widemann, B: A critique of agent-based simulation in ecology, ECMS 2012 (2012)|
Models link empirical observations with formal reasoning. If the computer plays an essential role in their functioning, it seems only fair to consider theoretical computer science as well as the discipline of application. We review some perennial philosophical problems about the nature of state and behaviour in models from that perspective. A mathematical framework for their explication and the unbiased choice of solutions is proposed. Agent-based models play an increasing role in ecological modelling. They are taken here as an example for demonstrating critical assumptions and dilemmas in integrating criteria of methodological rigour with practical relevance of models. Some possible solutions and their practical implications are outlined based on this new theoretical perspective.