Complexity Explorer Santa Few Institute

Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling (Summer 2022)

Lead instructor:

This course is no longer in session.


When does the course start?  June 7, 2022

When does it end?   August 26, 2022

Who is the instructor? 

Anamaria Berea

Associate Term Professor
Computational and Data Sciences 
Director of Graduate Studies
Computational Social Sciences
Department of Computational and Data Sciences
College of Science
MAIS Concentration Head for CSS
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
George Mason University

Katarzyna Samson, Research Scientist, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Wroclaw, Poland

Bill Rand, Assistant Professor of Business Management at the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University is the course creator and video instructor!

When is the next session? To be determined.





How much does it cost?  The first unit is completely open and free. To complete the course a modest tuition fee of $50 USD is requested.  Once the course closes, the videos and quizzes will remain available to those who have enrolled and paid. 

Can I pay to take the full course at any time? Tuition is accepted until Monday June 20, 2022 until 11:59pm MT.  

I can't find out where to pay for the course! The link to pay the tuition is on a yellow banner on the course page, or you can go directly to once you have enrolled.  Do not submit a donation through our donation pages if you are trying to pay course tuition; these are treated separately.  Contact if you think you paid in the wrong place and we will help get you fully enrolled. 

Ok I paid - how do I know if I have access? Go to your profile (click on your name on the top right of the website) and look at "my enrollments".  Next to this course's name you should see either an open lock or a trophy icon - if you see either of those, you have access. 

I can't access PayPal in my country but I want to pay the tuition - what can I do? If you cannot access PayPal, you may use this form to pay by credit card. After we recieve your payment, we will give you access to the course manually, which could take up to 72 hours.  Please only use this link if you absolutely cannot access PayPal. If you have any trouble email

How is Complexity Explorer funded?  Complexity Explorer is funded by the Santa Fe Institute and donations from students!

I can't afford the tuition fee, what can I do?  Apply for a scholarship. We will offer a limited number of scholarships to deserving individuals.Tuition scholarships are available for those who have significant economic hardship to give them the opportunity to earn a course certificate at no cost. Enroll in the course, and then answer the following questions

Scholarship requests that do not have the above information will not be considered.  



Who is the intended audience?  This course is for anyone with an interest in understanding how complex phenomena emerge from lower-level interactions, and how to use agent-based modeling (ABM).  ABM can be applied in a wide variety of setting from social science to physics to engineering to business and management.

What are the prerequisites?  There are no prerequisites for this course.  No programming experience is required.  Some computational literacy is useful. Some basic mathematical and statistical ability will be useful, but is not required.



How does the course work?  Each unit consists of a series of short videos, each video is a subtopic of the theme of the unit. The course website will lead you through the videos in order, allowing you to skip or repeat videos. You can watch the videos at your own pace and in any order. Once posted, they will remain available throughout the course. The videos are interspersed with short exercises and quizzes, designed to test your understanding of the material covered in the previous video. 

The course is made up of 9 units.  The units will be released one per week and are subdivided into subunits (plus a final review subunit), which should each take about a day to complete. At the end of every unit, there will be a test. You will also be able to access the slides for the unit.  The one exception is that the first unit will take roughly two weeks to complete and consists of ten subunits (plus a final review subunit).

How does the peer review system work? During this course, you will submit work to be reviewed by your peers on two occasions, and you will also be expected to review the assignments your peers submit.  

In order to pass the peer review section, you need to do two things:

  1. Submit your assignment before the submission deadline.
  2. Review three other students' assignments after the submission deadline and before the evaluation deadline.

You can find the peer review section(s) quickly by clicking on the "My Progress" tab, and then clicking on the appropriate section of the Homework/Exam column.  

To submit an assignment, upload the document (pdf files or NetLogo files only please).  Make sure your name is not on your assignment.

To evaluate other students' assignments, go to the peer review section and you will be prompted to download a file with one assignment. Follow the rubric, put comments in the comment box (this is required), and submit.  You will then be given a second assignment to review, and then a third.  Check the submission number of the ZIP file you download and make sure it matches with what is displayed on the screen. Do one assignment review completely to avoid accidentally evaluating the wrong assignment! Make sure you have done all the reviews before the deadline in order to receive your full score.

You should receive a reminder email about the submission and evaluation deadlines 24 hours before they are due.  It is your responsibility to make sure you complete the work by the deadline - the deadline will be listed on the peer review section, in emails, on the forum, and the instructor may bring it up during office hours.  

How are peer review segments graded? When you submit an assignment for peer review, you will receive an average grade based on the evaluations of your peers, which will count for 2/3 of your grade.  The remaining 1/3 of your grade is based on completion of three peer reviews.  

An example:

  • You submit your assignment and evaluate three other assignments.  You get 1/3 of the total points, so ~33.3%.
  • Your peers evaluate your assignment and give you an average score of 80%, which counts towards 2/3 of your total score, so ~53.3%.
  • Your total score for the peer review is therefore ~ 86.7%.

I completed three evaluations, why do I keep seeing more submissions to review? We require three evaluations from you, however, we will keep offering you optional submissions to review to help us ensure that every submission is reviewed at least three times.  You can review as many submissions as you like, or you can stop after three and continue on with the rest of the course.

Will we build a model during the course?  Yes, you will work on several different models. One of the main course components is the construction of a full model that you will build throughout the course.



How is the course graded? Your grade will be based on the end-of-unit tests, peer review assignments, and the final project. Your total course score will be your average score across these categories.

Complexity Explorer Honor Code. We do not employ any technologies to assess whether participants are submitting original work in their assignments or otherwise working independently on quizzes, etc. We hope that participants come to ComplexityExplorer courses with the primary intent to learn the material, not - or not only - to get a certificate of completion. Submitting copy-paste answers in response to an assignment prompt does not facilitate learning, and thus we hope that participants will not engage in such activities. Ultimately, it is up to each participant to decide what they want to achieve in the course and how to best accomplish their goals.



How can I recieve a certificate of completion? If you successfully complete the course, you will receive a certificate of completion from the Santa Fe Institute. This is a digital certificate; we do not offer printed certificates at this time. You need to complete all of the end-of-unit tests, peer review assignments and final project, with an average score of 70% or greater (i.e., averaged over all tests, assignments and the project), to receive a certificate of successful completion.

Can I get university credit for this course? Not through Complexity Explorer or the Santa Fe Institute. If you are enrolled at a university and find the course valuable, you can make your professors aware of the course and suggest they incorporate the content into a for-credit course.

How can I add my certificate to LinkedIn or share it on social media?

Certificates are available as a pdf download and also as a unique, public URL you can link to.  When you click on your certificates you will be taken to that public page.  Copy the URL and share it anywhere you like.   

If you want to post your certificates to LinkedIn, follow these instructions:  Navigate to your certificate. If the course session is closed, go to your account by clicking your name at the top right of the Complexity Explorer page.  Go to My Enrollments and then click on the Show Enrollments in Past Courses text in grey.   From there you can click on your past certificates.  Copy the URL of the certificate, and then click on the Add Certificate to LinkedIn button.  Fill in the form by putting in the name of the course, the Santa Fe Institute, leave license blank, add the month and year you completed the course, and then add the public URL.  



Is there a required textbook? No textbook is required. The lectures will stand on their own, but will be complemented by some additional resources.  Parts of the course will be based on An Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Wilensky and Rand. This book could be a good companion to the course materials, but it is definitely not necessary for taking the course.

Is there any software required? NetLogo will be used extensively throughout the course.  NetLogo is free and open source. NetLogo is developed and maintained by Uri Wilensky at the Center for Connected Learning at Northwestern University.  will also be mentioned and used at various parts of the course.  R is also free and open source.



In what ways am I allowed to use these resources?  All the materials on this site are available for your use for any non-commercial purpose. All materials (videos, code, write-ups, etc.) are covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License ( ). This states that you may copy, distribute, and transmit the work under the condition that you give attribution to, and your use is for non-commercial purposes.



Are subtitles and transcripts available?   YouTube AI-generated subtitles are available in English for most lectures and are reasonably accurate. Additionally, ComplexityExplorer hosts an ongoing effort to create subtitles in different languages. (You are invited to volunteer to subtitle here. We greatly appreciate the generous learners who do this.) If subtitles are available for a given video they can be accessed from the YouTube "CC" menu button.  

Can I download a text transcript of the video? For any video that has subtitles available, there will be a plain text transcript (in .txt format) available for download, for each subtitle language available.  When you click on Subtitles & Transcripts you will be given all of the language options available, and you can choose to download either the subtitle or the transcript, or both.  



Do I have to enroll to take the course?   You need to enroll in order to access the complete course materials and receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the course. Once you enroll you can access the first four units for free; to access the rest of the units a tuition fee of $50 is requested.

How do I enroll?  Click the “Enroll” button in the upper right section of the course homepage (immediately below the "Home", "About", "Explore", etc. menu). You will be guided through the short enrollment process. Course content will not be available until the course starts on June 20.

How do I unenroll? If you decide that you would like to unenroll for whatever reason, this option is available through the text button labeled "Unenroll" in the upper right section of the course homepage (immediately below the "Home", "About", "Explore", etc. menu).

Can I enroll after the course begins? Yes, but to be eligible to receive a grade and a certificate you must register and pay the tuition by the tuition deadline of June 20, 2022 at 11:59pm MT.

I don't want to take the course for a certificate and I don't care about exams. Can I access the content without enrolling? Yes, you can find all of the course lectures on our YouTube channel, under the Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling playlist.



How much time does the course require? To complete the course in the given 11-week period, you
should expect to spend 1–2 hours per week watching videos and taking quizzes and exams, and 2–4 hours
per week on homework, for a total of 3–6 hours per week.  That said, the time spent on the course will vary depending on your math background and how many of the optional assignments you complete.

Unit 1 will be approximately 1.5-3 hours long and will take about a week and a half, and that the rest of the units will be around 1-1.5 hours long and take about a week each.



What are the rules on collaboration? You are welcome to discuss anything with anyone! The course forum is a platform for participants to discuss the course content, quizzes, etc. We do ask that the end-of-unit tests be completed individually.

What is the purpose of the forum? The course forum is a place for course participants to post questions, answer other people's questions, and discuss the course material or related topics. The forum is facilitated by the teaching assistant and Complexity Explorer staff – and occasionally the course instructors may drop in to discuss, too. You can find the forum under the "Forum" tab in the course menu toward the top of the page.



Do I need special software to complete the course? No, ComplexityExplorer works on standard web browsers. The video content embedded within ComplexityExplorer is hosted on YouTube and thus may encounter firewall blocks, so download options are available (see below). 

How do I get the videos to play at a different rate?  Our videos are streamed through YouTube, which provides an option to control the playback rate.

Can I watch the videos without YouTube?  Yes, you can download all of the videos from AWS and watch them locally. (see next point)  PLEASE NOTE: This option may not be available at this time for all videos.

Can I download the videos? Click on the "Download" button if it appears above the video screen within the Complexity Explorer course. 



Please let us know! Contact for any sort of technical issues that you encounter during the course.



What if I have more questions?  Please address other questions to