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Joshua M. Epstein is Director of the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics, Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at The Brookings Institution, and a member of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute.



He received a B.A. at the Amherst College in 1976 and a Ph.D. in Political Science from MIT in 1981.

He has taught computational and mathematical modeling at Princeton University and the Santa Fe Institute Summer School.

He is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the Editorial Boards of the journal Complexity, and of the Princeton University Press Studies in Complexity book series.


Epsteins primary research interest is in the modeling of complex social, economic, and biological systems using computational agent based models and nonlinear dynamical systems. In his latest book Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling he explores the role of agent based models in the generative sciences.

He has published widely in the modeling area, including recent articles on the dynamics of civil violence, the demography of the Anasazi (both in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) and the epidemiology of smallpox (in the American Journal of Epidemiology).

In Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science From the Bottom Up, Epstein and Robert Axtell developed the first large scale agent-based computational model, the Sugarscape, to explore the role of social phenomenon such as seasonal migrations, pollution, sexual reproduction, combat, and transmission of disease and even culture.


Epstein authored or co-authored several books including. A selection:

  • 1987, Strategy and Force Planning: The Case of the Persian Gulf, Brookings Institution.
  • 1990, Conventional Force Reductions: A Dynamic Assessment, Brookings Institution.
  • 1996, Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science From the Bottom Up, with Robert Axtell, MIT Press/Brookings Institution
  • 1997, Nonlinear Dynamics, Mathematical Biology, and Social Science, Santa Fe Institute/Addison-Wesley.
  • 2007, Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling , Princeton University Press.


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