Growing Artificial Societies

From Complex Adaptive Systems

Growing Artificial Societies

Social Science from the Bottom Up

By Joshua M. Epstein and Robert L. Axtell

A Bradford Book





How do social structures and group behaviors arise from the interaction of individuals? Growing Artificial Societies approaches this question with cutting-edge computer simulation techniques. Fundamental collective behaviors such as group formation, cultural transmission, combat, and trade are seen to "emerge" from the interaction of individual agents following a few simple rules.

In their program, named Sugarscape, Epstein and Axtell begin the development of a "bottom up" social science that is capturing the attention of researchers and commentators alike.

The study is part of the 2050 Project, a joint venture of the Santa Fe Institute, the World Resources Institute, and the Brookings Institution. The project is an international effort to identify conditions for a sustainable global system in the next century and to design policies to help achieve such a system.

Copublished with the Brookings Institution


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262050531 224 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in


$36.00 X ISBN: 9780262550253 224 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in


  • Computer simulations are changing the frontiers of science. Growing Artificial Societies is an outstanding example of why; it shows how sociocultural phenomena like trade, wealth, and warfare arise naturally out of the simple actions of individuals. This illuminating, entertaining book will set the standard for the practice of social science in the 21st century.

    John L. Casti

    Santa Fe Institute

  • Epstein and Axtell present an exciting theoretical version of an integrated social science built on simple and explicit microfoundations.

    Sidney G. Winter

    Wharton School of Business

  • Growing Artificial Societies is a milestone in social science research. It vividly demonstrates the potential of agent-based computer simulation to break disciplinary boundaries. It does this by analyzing, in a unified framework, the dynamic interactions of such diverse activities as trade, combat, mating, culture, and disease. It is an impressive achievement.

    Robert Axelrod

    University of Michigan