Skip navigation
Paperback | $32.00 Short | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780262550253 | 224 pp. | 6 x 8.9 in | October 1996

Growing Artificial Societies

Social Science from the Bottom Up


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.

Growing Artificial Societies is also available on CD-ROM, which includes about 50 animations that develop the scenarios described in the text.

Copublished with the Brookings Institution


"Growing Artificial Societies is a milestone in social science research.It vividly demonstrates the potential of agent-based computer simulation tobreak disciplinary boundaries. It does this by analyzing in a unifiedframework the dynamic interactions of such diverse activities as trade,combat, mating, culture, and disease. It is an impressive achievement."
Robert Axelrod, University of Michigan