The principle is straightforward: all complex systems share some profound similarities. Each of them is massively parallel: they have many quasi-independent “agents” interacting at once. (An agent might be a single firm in an economy or a baggage handler at an airline.) These agents are adaptive: they are constantly responding to each other (the baggage handlers interact with their bosses). And they are decentralized: no one agent is completely in charge (baggage handlers may not always follow management’s directives). Like all complex systems, then, the overall behavior…emerges spontaneously from myriad low-level interactions.
The key to these simulations, known as agent-based modeling, is to identify these low-level interactions.