Course Project Information for Economics 308

Agent-Based Computational Economics (ACE)

Last Updated: 28 March 2015

Latest Course Offering: Spring 2009
Meeting Time TR 11-12:20
Meeting Place: East Hall 111

Instructor:
Leigh Tesfatsion
Professor of Economics and Mathematics
Department of Economics
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011-1070
http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/tesfatsi/
tesfatsi AT iastate.edu

Economics 308 Homepage

General Information on Course Projects:

Your grades for Econ 308 will be based on a written midterm exam (30 percent), assigned take-home and/or in-class exercises related to required readings (30 percent), general attendance and participation in class discussion (15 percent), plus a written course project report (25 percent) on some topic related to ACE.

You are encouraged (but not required) to work in teams for your course projects. Project teams can include up to a maximum of four students. Project teams can be self-selected with one restriction: All team members must be currently enrolled for credit in Econ 308.

Examples of suitable types of course projects include: (1) a review and critique of existing ACE-related work focusing on a particular issue of interest; (2) the design and running of experiments to study an ACE-related issue of interest using existing software; (3) the design and running of illustrative experiments using a modified/extended version of existing software; and (4) the development "from scratch" of ACE application software.

Students turning in high-quality course projects will be offered a chance to web-publish their projects at the ACE Website.

A list of possible course project topics is given below for your consideration. Alternatively, if desired, you can tailor the topic and scope of your course project to your particular backgrounds and interests as long as your project is in clear relation to topics covered in Econ 308 and prior instructor approval is obtained.

Students are strongly encouraged to begin consideration of possible course project topics as soon as possible.

Each project individual or team will be asked to turn in a preliminary written outline of their course project during the week after spring break and to be prepared to give a brief in-class presentation of their proposed project to permit constructive comments and suggestions from classmates. Final go-ahead approval of course project proposals must be obtained from the instructor no later than the end of March.

Instructions for Turning in Your Final Course Project Written Reports:

As noted above, course projects will determine 25% of your overall course grade. Final course project written reports should be turned in (or emailed) to me either before or during our last regular class meeting if you want to ensure that you receive a course grade by the end of the final exam period.

I will not penalize any course project written report that is turned in (or emailed) to me by noon on the assigned final exam day for Econ 308. However, I might then need a few additional days to complete the grading of your course project written report. If so, I might have to turn in a grade of incomplete for you until I have finished with my grading.

ANY COURSE PROJECT WRITTEN REPORT TURNED IN (OR EMAILED) TO ME AFTER NOON ON THE ASSIGNED FINAL EXAM DAY FOR ECON 308 WILL BE PENALIZED 1/2 PERCENTAGE POINT FOR EACH DAY IT IS LATE.

Specifically, I will be stopping by my department mailbox at noon on this final exam day to check for course project written reports there, and I will be checking my email at noon on this final exam day to check for course project written reports received as attachments. Course project written reports NOT received by me by noon on this final exam day either by direct handing in to me, or through my Economics Department mailbox, or through email with a time stamp by noon, will be penalized 1/2 percent for each day they are late.

For example, the maximum course grade percentage (out of a maximum possible 25%) that will be awarded to a course project written report turned in to me AFTER 12:00 noon on the Econ 308 final exam day will be 24.5%. The maximum course grade percentage (out of a maximum possible 25%) that will be awarded to a course project written report turned in to me AFTER 12:00 noon on the day AFTER the Econ 308 final exam day will be 24.0%, and so forth.

Instructions for Preparation of Final Course Project Written Reports:

The exact length of each final course project written report will depend on the topic and type of report. Ideally, the reports should be comprehensive enough that I can easily grasp what has been done without having to contact you with questions. However, the report should not be so long that I only finish grading the reports next Fall!

Final written reports for your course projects should be TYPED if at all possible for easier readability. They should be CLEAR AND SELF-SUFFICIENT DESCRIPTIONS of your course project work that include the following FOUR aspects:

  1. A careful description of the SPECIFIC QUESTIONS (HYPOTHESES) you have explored in your literature critique (experimental study), and a clear discussion of the relation of these questions (hypotheses) to Econ 308 course materials.

  2. A careful description of the PROCESS you have used to address (explore) these questions (hypotheses). For example, for a literary critique, you should discuss the criteria you used to select the papers you critiqued in view of the questions you listed above in part 1. For a course project involving experimentation, you should carefully set out your experimental design in relation to the hypotheses you listed above in part 1.

  3. A careful description of your FINDINGS regarding the questions (experimental hypotheses) you listed above in part 1 for your literature critique (experimental study), and a careful attempt to analyze and explain these findings in terms of maintained assumptions (maintained conditions and treatment factor specifications).

  4. A list of REFERENCES that includes a complete citation for any work by someone else (e.g., book, article, web site, software,...) that you used in part or in whole for your course project. Each citation should include a complete list of authors/co-authors, the specific outlet (journal name, book title, web page title and URL, etc.), the publishing company (if published) or the institutional affiliation of the authors/co-authors (if a working paper, web page, or some other institutionally supported outlet), volume/issue numbers and/or page numbers (if published), and year of publication or release. The citations in your reference list should permit a reader of your report to locate and access any reference of interest.

    IMPORTANT CAUTION ABOUT PLAGIARISM:

    Please be sure to follow standard scholarly procedures in preparing your final course project written reports. The use of other people's ideas or work is perfectly acceptable as long as full and proper credit is given to them. This means, in particular, that any quoted or paraphrased ideas or work taken from a source should be explicitly attributed to that source. Moreover, a full citation for that source should be included in your list of references if the source is in some publicly accessible form (e.g., not a private letter or a personal communication). Also, any exact quotes from other persons should be included within quotation marks. Usage of other people's ideas or work without proper credit is plagiarism, a serious form of cheating for which serious university sanctions apply. Given today's Internet search capabilities, please be aware it is extremely easy to check the originality of submitted work.

A List of Possible Suitable Course Projects:

LEVEL 1: LITERATURE CRITIQUE

Consider the following list of research areas with linked resource sites. Each resource site indicates key issues related to the topic area, links to researchers and/or research groups currently investigating the topic area, and pointers to related software.

Choose two or more research articles (not surveys) from one of these research area sites. After obtaining instructor approval for the selected articles, prepare a careful written critique of the research presented in these articles in accordance with the general "final course project written report" guidelines provided above.

LEVEL 2: PROJECT INVOLVING THE USE OF EXISTING SOFTWARE

Visit the ACE Computational Laboratories and Demonstration Software Site. Select one of the demos available at this site that provides enough facility to carry out an interesting experimental study in a rigorous manner (e.g. along the lines of the Schelling Demo Ex 2) and that relates to one or more of the topics covered in Econ 308.

Examples of possible demo choices include: Chris Cook's Schelling Segregation Model Demo; Mark McBride's Zero-Intelligence Trading Demo; Chris Cook's The Axelrod Tournament Demo; Andy Schlei's Hunter-Gatherer Demo ("Hunters"), and the Trade Network Game Demo by Stewart, McFadzean, and Tesfatsion. Each of these demos provides: (a) a home page with a detailed demo description; (b) instructions for the downloading and automatic installation of the demo on a Windows-based pc; and (c) a clear graphical user interface permitting serious experimentation (e.g., pseudo-random number seed capture for replication) with no original programming required.

Many other demo choices are possible. If you don't find something of interest to you at the above indicated sites, you can look elsewhere for a suitable demo to use -- for example, the main NetLogo and Repast websites include a number of demo applications submitted by users. However, you will need to check carefully to ensure that whatever demo you select indeed provides the needed facility to undertake an interesting experimental study in a rigorous manner that relates to one or more of the topics covered in Econ 308.

Conditional on instructor approval, design and carry out some form of comprehensive experimental study with your selected demo software, using Exercises 1 and 2 (Schelling Demo Experiments) as your basic guide for carrying out your study.

Prepare a careful write-up of your experimental findings in accordance with the general final written report guidelines provided above.

LEVEL 3: PROJECT INVOLVING THE MODIFICATION OF EXISTING SOFTWARE

Visit the ACE Computational Laboratories and Demonstration Software Site. Select one of the demos available at this site that is freely available as open-source code. Conditional on instructor approval, modify or expand the capabilities of the demo to handle some new feature of interest to you that is also clearly related to one or more topics covered in Econ 308.

Prepare a written report that includes: (a) why you chose to modify/extend this particular demo; (b) a careful description of the original demo's capabilities; (c) a careful description of the modifications/extensions you have made to the capabilities of the original demo; and (d) some illustrative experiments to demonstrate how the modifications/extensions you have permit interesting new kinds of experiments.

If you cannot find a demo of interest at the above indicated site, you can look for a suitable demo elsewhere. However, you must be sure that any demo you select is related to one or more topics covered in Econ 308, is freely available for downloading, and has open-source code that you can modify or extend without any violation of proprietary licenses.

LEVEL 4: PROJECT INVOLVING THE ORIGINAL DEVELOPMENT OF ACE APPLICATION SOFTWARE

Alternatively, and with prior instructor approval, you can try coding up an ACE application "from scratch" that permits interesting rigorously-conducted experiments related to one or more topics covered in Econ 308. For this purpose, you might want to visit the ACE General Software and Toolkits Site and browse the availability of programming languages and toolkits that are currently being used to develop ACE application software.

Prepare a written report that includes (a) why you chose to develop this particular ACE application software; (b) a careful description of the steps you took to develop and test (debug) this software; (c) a careful description of its capabilities; and (d) some illustrative experiments to demonstrate these capabilities.

Course Project Topics from Previous Semesters:

Literature Critiques:

Experimental Studies using Previously Developed Software

Experimental Studies using Originally Developed Software

Copyright © Leigh Tesfatsion. All Rights Reserved.