15 Theory‐Interpretable, Data‐Driven Agent‐Based Modeling

William Rand

Department of Marketing, Poole College of Management, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

The Beauty and Challenge of Big Data

The beauty of big data is all around us and has the potential to be a huge boon to the social sciences. Right now billions of people are carrying cell phones, posting content on social media, driving smart cars, recording their steps, and even using smart refrigerators (Riggins and Wamba 2015). Data is being generated at an extraordinarily fast rate, and many of our traditional methods of analyzing this data face challenges.

The hope and promise for the social sciences is that these vast data sets will give us new insight into the basic way that people interact and behave. There are many different types of data that are available as part of the big data revolution. First, there is the digitization of traditional administrative data (Kitchin 2014). This includes everything from income tax records to parking violation data. This data has always been collected (though not always stored) but now is much more amenable to analysis due to the digitization of the data and the development of ways to get access to this data. For instance, the open government data movements (Ubaldi 2013) have the stated goal of making and increasing the amount of data available to be analyzed by private citizens. Hackathons have been one way to take advantage of this data and ...

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