Faculty Profile: Robert Axtell

Robert Axtell

Robert Axtell

Co-director, Computational Public Policy Lab

Primary Research: Computational social science and public policy

Office: 375 Research Hall, MS 6B2 
Phone: 703-993-9302
Primary Website: http://www.css.gmu.edu/~axtell/Rob/Home.html

Current Research Interests

His teaching and research involves computational and mathematical modeling of social and economic processes. Specifically, he works at the intersection of multi-agent systems computer science and the social sciences, building so-called agent-based models for a variety of market and non-market phenomena.

Teaching Interests

For the last several years, he has been teaching CSS 610 in the Spring to graduate students in the Department of Computational Social Science and others. Material for that course, including his draft textbook, are located on a separate website. Each fall, he teaches one of the other courses below, on a rotating basis. The ‘Advanced ABMS’ course has focussed on parallel execution of agent models and large-scale models the past few times he has taught it, and this will be the subject in Fall 2015. His tentative plan for Fall 2016 is to teach the ‘Mathematics of Agent Systems’ course.

  • CSS 610: Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation
  • CSS 695: Agent-Based Economics
  • CSS 739: Advanced Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation
  • CSS 739: Mathematics of Agent Systems

Dr. Robert Axtell holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Detroit where he was an Insignis Scholar. He grew up in upstate New York and attended Warsaw Central School.

His research has been published in the leading scientific journals, including Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, and reprised in Nature, and has appeared in top disciplinary journals (e.g., American Economic Review, Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, Economic Journal), in general interest journals (e.g., PLOS One) and in specialty journals (e.g., Journal of Regulatory Economics, Technology Forecasting and Social Change.) His research has been supported by American philanthropies (e.g., John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Institute for New Economic Thinking) and government organizations (e.g., National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Small Business Administration, Office of Naval Research, Environmental Protection Agency). Stories about his research have appeared in major magazines (e.g., Economist, Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American, New Yorker, Discover, Wired, New Scientist, Technology Review, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Science News, Chronicle of Higher Education, Byte, Le Temps Strategique) and newspapers (e.g., Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, Financial Times). He is co-author of Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up (MIT Press) with J.M. Epstein, widely cited as an example of how to apply modern computing to the analysis of social and economic phenomena.

For nearly 15 years he was Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, Foreign Policy Studies, and Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution (Washington, D.C.) where he helped found the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics (CSED). During this time he taught courses on his research as Mellon Distinguished Visiting Professor at Middlebury College (2004), Visiting Professor of Economics of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research (2004), Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University (2002) and Visiting Associate Professor of Economics at Johns Hopkins (1998-2000).

Upon moving to Mason he helped found the Department of Computational Social Science in 2007, the first department of its kind in the world, and has served as Department Chair since 2008. During the 2013-14 academic year he was on sabbatical as Visiting Professor in the Complexity Economics Programme at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute and Oxford Martin School, and visiting fellow of Hertford College. For many years he has been External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. Most recently he has co-founded and is Co-Director of the Computational Public Policy Laboratory, a joint project of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study and the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs (SPGIA) at Mason.

Dr. Axtell has made publications in a variety of areas:

  • Agent Computing
  • Sugarscape
  • Environment
  • Ancient Societies
  • Agents & Economics
  • Cognition
  • Retirement
  • Classes
  • Exchange/Markets
  • Firms
  • Housing Bubble
  • Labor Networks
  • Matching
  • Commons
  • Discounting
  • Macro
  • Technology
  • Emergence
  • Hayek & Complexity
  • Parallel Agents

For a more detailed look at Dr. Axtell’s publications, visit his personal webpage’s research library.

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