News from the Centre for Policy Modelling, including announcements of: new papers, special issues, books, workshops, projects, jobs and study opportunities.

22 May, 2010

New Paper: Complexity and Context-Dependency

Complexity and Context-Dependency

CPM Report No.: 10-209
By: Bruce Edmonds
Date: 20th May 2010

To be presented at the Eurpean Conference on Complex Systems 2010 (ECCS), Lisbon, September 2010.


It is argued that given the “anti-anthropomorphic” principle, that the universe is not structured for our benefit, that modelling trade-offs will necessarily mean that many of our models will be context-specific. The context heuristic, that divides the processing into rich, fuzzy context-recognition and crisp, conscious reasoning and learning is outlined. The consequences of accepting the impact of this human heuristic in the light of the necessity of accepting context-specificity in our modelling of complex systems is examined. In particular the development of “islands” or related model clusters rather than over-arching laws and theories. It is suggested that by accepting and dealing with context (rather than ignoring it) we can push the boundaries of science a little further.
Accessible as CPM Report 209:

14 May, 2010

Two PhD Studentships at the CPM available

(as part of the SCID project)

Stipend: £13,290 per annum + applicable fees
1+3 years or 3 years deending on experience

Applications are invited for 2 phd students to work on modelling projects associated with the EPSRC project: the Social Complexity of Immigration and Diversity (SCID).  This project is in association with the University of Manchester's Institute for Social Change and its Department of Theoretical Physics.  This is a high-profile and ambitious project that aims to develop a new approach to using simulations to gain understanding of important social issues.

The project will last for 5 years starting 1 September 2010. 

The period of study will involve the development of detailed agent-based simulations reflecting as much of the evidence as possible about a case study from one of 3 areas (fof details see the project description):
  • Diversity, homophily and social trust
  • Socio-political integration
  • Socio-economic inequality
The evidence will be provided by experts at the Institute for Social Change. The central challenge of the PhD will be to integrate as much of this evidence as possible within Agent-based Simulations.  For more details see the project description at:

Applicants should preferably have a Masters-level degree in  a relevant discipline, preferably with an element of computer science or computational social science. The candidate should thus have a reasonable level programming and/or simulation experience. An ability to learn to program simulations in Java/Repast is a must.  Knowledge of sociology in one of the above areas is also an advantage.  The candidate has to be an EU national.

The CPM is one of the few research centres in the world that focuses on social simulation.  Since its inception in 1992 it has developed its unique blend of trans-disciplinary research, crossing the areas of : artificial intelligence, complexity scicence, philosophy and computational social science (to get an idea of its scope browse its discussion papers).  It has built up a reputation and track-record over that time being involved in a number of EU and UK projects (Ocopomo, EMIL, Nania, NeWater, GIACS, CAVES, CCDEW, FIRMA, IMIS).  The CPM is a happy, informal, fairly chaotic but, we believe, very creative lab.  For more information about the work of the Centre see its website at

For informal discussions about the post, contact Bruce Edmonds on +44 (0) 161 3886 or email to

To apply, send a CV with a covering letter to Bruce Edmonds, Centre for Policy Modelling, MMUBS, Aytoun Building, Aytoun Street, M1 3GH, UK
The University is committed to an Equal Opportunities Policy.