Computational Model Library

The largely dominant meritocratic paradigm of highly competitive Western cultures is rooted on the belief that success is due mainly, if not exclusively, to personal qualities such as talent, intelligence, skills, smartness, efforts, willfulness, hard work or risk taking. Sometimes, we are willing to admit that a certain degree of luck could also play a role in achieving significant material success. But, as a matter of fact, it is rather common to underestimate the importance of external forces in individual successful stories. It is very well known that intelligence (or, more in general, talent and personal qualities) exhibits a Gaussian distribution among the population, whereas the distribution of wealth - often considered a proxy of success - follows typically a power law (Pareto law), with a large majority of poor people and a very small number of billionaires. Such a discrepancy between a Normal distribution of inputs, with a typical scale (the average talent or intelligence), and the scale invariant distribution of outputs, suggests that some hidden ingredient is at work behind the scenes. In a recent paper, with the help of this very simple agent-based model realized with NetLogo, we suggest that such an ingredient is just randomness. In particular, we show that, if it is true that some degree of talent is necessary to be successful in life, almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals. As to our knowledge, this counterintuitive result - although implicitly suggested between the lines in a vast literature - is quantified here for the first time. It sheds new light on the effectiveness of assessing merit on the basis of the reached level of success and underlines the risks of distributing excessive honors or resources to people who, at the end of the day, could have been simply luckier than others. With the help of this model, several policy hypotheses are also addressed and compared to show the most efficient strategies for public funding of research in order to improve meritocracy, diversity and innovation.


Paolo Zeppini Koen Frenken Luis Izquierdo | Published Thu Dec 21 16:03:30 2017 | Last modified Thu May 3 16:09:02 2018

This model simulate product diffusion on different social network structures.

This spatially explicit agent-based model addresses how effective foraging radius (r_e) affects the effective size–and thus the equilibrium cultural diversity–of a structured population composed of central-place foraging groups.

In CmLab we explore the implications of the phenomenon of Conservation of Money in a modern economy. This is one of a series of models exploring the dynamics of sustainable economics – PSoup, ModEco, EiLab, OamLab, MppLab, TpLab, CmLab.

An agent-based model generating social practices

Georg Holtz | Published Tue Jun 4 13:40:54 2013 | Last modified Thu Jan 30 11:33:41 2014

This model expands approaches from social practice theories and is used to investigate the ability of the underlying conceptual model to explain the emergence of social practices, defined as routine behaviour that is similar amoung peers.

This model represents technological and ecological behaviors of mobile hunter-gatherers, in a variable environment, as they produce, use, and discard chipped stone artifacts. The results can be analyzed and compared with archaeological sites.

Feedback Loop Example: Forest Resource Transport

James Millington | Published Fri Dec 21 11:11:07 2012 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:32 2013

This model illustrates a positive ‘transport’ feedback loop in which lines with different resistance to flows of material result in variation in rates of change in linked entities.

Peer reviewed Lithic Raw Material Procurement and Provisioning

Jonathan Paige | Published Fri Mar 6 01:54:44 2015 | Last modified Thu Mar 12 06:21:26 2015

This model simulates the lithic raw material use and provisioning behavior of a group that inhabits a permanent base camp, and uses stone tools.

TechNet_04: Cultural Transmission in a Spatially-Situated Network

Andrew White | Published Mon Oct 8 19:36:07 2012 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:48 2013

The TechNet_04 is an abstract model that embeds a simple cultural tranmission process in an environment where interaction is structured by spatially-situated networks.

This model allows for the investigation of the effect spatial clustering of raw material sources has on the outcome of the neutral model of stone raw material procurement by Brantingham (2003).

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