Graphical user interface for Agent-based models (ABM) showing complex relationships in real world systems.

Agent-based models are used to simulate a range of complex real world systems.

Agent-based Modelling

The CSIRO agent-based modelling working group (CABM) is part of the CSIRO Centre for Complex Systems Science and brings together scientists across CSIRO who are interested in agent-based modelling techniques.

  • 15 November 2007 | Updated 28 February 2013

What is Agent-based Modelling?

Agent-based Modelling (ABM) is a means of analysing systems by representing the individual elements or 'agents' from which they are comprised, and simulating their actions and interactions.

Attributes and behaviours of the individual agents are defined and modelled together in a way that scales up their interactions, providing insights into the system behaviour itself.

Agent-based Models often show the emergence of surprising complex behaviour at the system level.

ABM reveals emergence from the lower (micro) level of systems to higher (macro) level outcomes and enables researchers to move past traditional modelling limitations by allowing:

  • representation of heterogeneous agents
  • limited knowledge and access to information
  • agent learning and adaptation
  • explicit interactions and communication
  • representation of feedbacks and non-linearities of complex adaptive systems.

ABM is also ideal for interdisciplinary modelling, and often shows the emergence of surprising and complex behaviour at the broader system level.

ABM research at CSIRO

The purpose of the CSIRO ABM working group (CABM) is to foster innovation and excellence in applied agent-based modelling, and promote CSIRO as a global hub of ABM experts.

CABM facilitates research by:

  • sponsoring training, attendance at workshops and conferences, and funding for ABM-related meetings and activities
  • connecting the network of ABM experts through Web-based media, encouraging cross fertilisation of techniques and ideas
  • providing opportunities for showcasing ABM research at CSIRO
  • developing research partnerships across various CSIRO divisions and externally to the global ABM research community, to reduce isolation of ABM researchers.

Our emphasis is on facilitating meetings of smaller groups within CABM who share common problems and interests to address their common research needs. This approach enables those who are relatively new to agent-based modelling to gain experience and plan their own research paths more efficiently.


CABM hosts annual workshops and working group meetings, reviews projects with ABM components upon request, and evaluates developments in agent-based modelling for communicating back to the CABM community.

The annual workshop covers theory and techniques relating to ABM. Working group meetings aim for tangible scientific progress, such as written output or software creation activities.

Scientists from outside CSIRO are welcome to join our mailing list and to attend CABM meetings of interest. Travel support exists for those who are involved in CSS-funded projects.

Read more about CSIRO's research in Complex Systems Science.