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I am hoping that this is a simple and specific question. I just wanted to know whether physicists from any branch of physics use agent based models as a tool in their research? If so, then in which areas or branches of research?

Note, I already know the Ising and Potts models are used in magnetism and other areas. Those are pretty simple models. I am actually interested in more complicated agent based models.

I am asking because while I see many articles on agent based models in Physica A, the articles tend to be about non-physics things like opinion formation, stock market behavior, etc. I have no problem with using agent based models outside of physics, I am just interested in its uses within the scope of physics problems. Hence I wanted to see how physicists use this tool to study physics problems. Thanks.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most "agent-based" modeling in physics turns out to be fairly simple; I vaguely recall seeing how one could turn any PDE into a cellular automata, which for physics (barring something horrible like rotating binary Pulsars in GR or something) is fairly simple...it was a popular topic in the late '80s IIRC, the died out for some reason... $\endgroup$ – Alex Nelson Nov 12 '14 at 16:07
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Your question contains its own answer. Physics per se does not include the study of agents in the sense you mean. You definition of agent includes some set of active or reactive somewhat complex behaviors (as compared with the typical physical laws) in a collective setting. Such an agent is not a particle, nor a crystal, nor a star, nor anything that comes to my mind. Agents are often used in a branch of physics called complex systems, but many physicists consider these to be cross disciplinary studies, such as biology (collective animal behaviors, such as flocks or ant colonies; evolution), econophysics, social physics, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ahh thanks, this helps alot. I get what you are saying. I think that the underlying goal is to understand the connection between micro-level behaviors, meso-level behaviors, and finally macro-level behaviors. Agent based models are just one tool, but physics has many more tools to achieve this end like mean field theory, statistical mechanics, etc. I am just trying to reconcile all of these tools and their appropriate applications. Thanks again. $\endgroup$ – krishnab Nov 14 '14 at 5:09

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