Applying Agent-based Simulation Software and Sociological Theory to Decision Making


The Coherence Based Modeling of Cultural Change and Political Violence (CCPV) is a three-year project funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, AFOSR Contract FA9550-07-1-0253, see brochure. It commenced on February 1, 2007 and is scheduled to close on May 31, 2010. It was funded through the AFOSR's general Broad Agency Announcement (BAA 2005-1) and is administered under the Federal Demonstration Partnership.

The ultimate objective of this project is to set up a prototype-level agent-based simulation system that will allow users to analyze the long-term effects of different policies on configurations of culture (ideologies, values, and beliefs) in specific localities of the world, and also predict the effect of this cultural change, in interaction with economic and political structural conditions, upon the level and targets for violent collective action in such localities. The simulation system will inform users which policy alternatives are most likely to minimize long-term violence and offer inference traces that allow policymakers to see the relevant information and logical inferences that led to each of its conclusions.

The system will encode its agents with cultural information based on available quantitative data, content analysis of ethnographic and historical documents, as well as through innovative virtual communities crawler based upon social network and cultural theories, all validated and supplemented by regional studies specialists. In addition, up-to-date and empirically tested social science theories of both cultural change and human decision-making will be implemented into agent algorithms to predict individual and group behavior, whose assumptions in turn will be tested through computer-mediated experiments.


To fulfill the goals of the project, the research group is divided into four divisions, all dealing with several tasks:

Theoretical Social Science:

Empirical Social Science:

Computer Science:

Area Studies:

The following figure visualizes their interdependencies, more information on this can be found here: