IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Agents Come to Bits: Towards a Constructive Comprehensive Taxonomy of Economic Entities


  • Tesfatsion, Leigh S.


This essay is an invited comment on Philip Mirowski's essay titled "Markets Come to Bits: Evolution, Computation, and Markomata in Economic Science," also to appear in JEBO. In his usual brilliant and provocative style, Mirowski argues for a constructive approach to economic modeling centered on the computational representation of markets as integrated sets of algorithms that evolve over time. This essay counters that a broader constructive approach to economic modeling can and should be taken. The recent advent of powerful computer technologies supporting Agent-Based Modeling (ABM) renders feasible the computational study of economies modeled as evolving systems of interacting agents. In ABM, an "agent" refers broadly to bundled data and behavioral methods representing an entity constituting part of a computationally constructed world. Examples of possible agent referents include individuals, social groupings, institutions (e.g., markets), biological entities such as crops, and physical entities such as transportation networks and weather. Consequently, ABM provides tremendous opportunities for economists and other social scientists to tailor the breadth and depth of the entities represented in their models to the application at hand. A simple ABM of a two-sector decentralized market economy is used for concrete illustration. Annotated pointers to related work can be accessed here:

Suggested Citation

  • Tesfatsion, Leigh S., 2007. "Agents Come to Bits: Towards a Constructive Comprehensive Taxonomy of Economic Entities," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12513, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12513

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tesfatsion, Leigh, 2006. "Agent-Based Computational Economics: A Constructive Approach to Economic Theory," Handbook of Computational Economics,in: Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 831-880 Elsevier.
    2. Albin, Peter & Foley, Duncan K., 1992. "Decentralized, dispersed exchange without an auctioneer : A simulation study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 27-51, June.
    3. Leigh Tesfatsion, 2002. "Agent-Based Computational Economics," Computational Economics 0203001, EconWPA, revised 15 Aug 2002.
    4. Leigh Tesfatsion, 2005. "Agent-Based Computational Laboratories for the Experimental Study of Complex Economic Systems," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 72, Society for Computational Economics.
    5. Epstein, Joshua M., 2006. "Remarks on the Foundations of Agent-Based Generative Social Science," Handbook of Computational Economics,in: Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 34, pages 1585-1604 Elsevier.
    6. Axelrod, Robert & Tesfatsion, Leigh, 2006. "A Guide for Newcomers to Agent-Based Modeling in the Social Sciences," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12515, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    7. Joshua M. Epstein & Robert L. Axtell, 1996. "Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550253, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Federico Pablo-Martí & Antonio García-Tabuenca & Tomás Mancha, 2013. "AMOEBA: An Agent-based Model Of Entrepreneurship and Business Activities," ERSA conference papers ersa13p717, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Dan Farhat, 2013. "The Economics of Vampires: An Agent-based Perspective," Working Papers 1301, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2013.
    3. Dan Farhat, 2011. "Bookworms versus Party Animals: An Artificial Labor Market with Human and Social Capital Accumulation," Working Papers 1103, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised May 2011.
    4. Li, Boyao, 2017. "The impact of the Basel III liquidity coverage ratio on macroeconomic stability: An agent-based approach," Economics Discussion Papers 2017-2, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C6 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling
    • D - Microeconomics
    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12513. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Curtis Balmer). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.