Multimethod Simulation Approach

There are three major methodologies used to build dynamic business simulation models: System Dynamics (SD), Process-centric (“Discrete Event”, DE) modeling, and Agent Based modeling (AB). The first two were developed in the 1950s and 1960s and both employ a system-level (top-down) view of things. The agent based approach, a more recent development, is a bottom-up approach where the modeler focuses on the behavior of the individual objects.

The system dynamics method assumes a high abstraction level and is primarily used for strategic level problems. Process-centric (“DE”) modeling is mainly used on operational and tactical levels. Agent based models are used at all levels: agents can be competing companies, consumers, projects, ideas, vehicles, pedestrians, or robots.

Methods in simulation modeling

How do I benefit from access to different modeling methods?

Modeling is based on abstraction, simplification, quantification, and analysis. Each of the three different modeling methodologies assumes different levels of each of these factors. It may be possible to model the actions of autonomous entities via System Dynamics but why introduce this additional abstraction and attendant assumptions if Agent Based tools are available? Conversely, why use Discrete methods to model continuous variables when SD methods are at hand? If the environment you are modeling is complex enough why worry about which set of abstractions are closest to reality when one tool can provide them all?

AnyLogic is an extremely flexible simulation tool and provides you with various ways to develop your model.

  • If there is individual data, use an agent-based approach.
  • If there is only information about global dependencies, then use system dynamics.
  • If your system can be easily be described as a process, then use a discrete-event approach.
  • And if your system is complex enough, it probably has all those aspects and you should consider combining the three methods.

With AnyLogic you are never limited by a particular simulation method and you can always choose the most efficient one, or combination, to address your problem.