Computational Science Technical Note CSTN-116


An Agent-Based Model of the Battle of Isandlwana

C. J. Scogings and K. A. Hawick

Archived November 2010, Revised April 2012


Agent-based models have been used to capture and analyze the essential behaviors of combat units although the number of agents used has been fairly low. We experiment with a microscopically detailed agent model in which over 20,000 soldiers are represented individually (one agent per soldier) in a simulation of the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879. We describe how a rule based model can be specified for soldiers on both sides and how it can be specialized for different skill sets and fighting capabilities of soldier agents belonging to particular units. We address some of the challenges of programming a model consisting of large numbers of agents. We demonstrate that our model provides a simulation of the battle with considerable historical accuracy and then go on to show how the same model can be used to demonstrate a plausible alternative to history.

Keywords: agent-based model; historical battle; spatial agent; complexity; emergence.

Full Document Text: PDF version.

Citation Information: BiBTeX database for CSTN Notes.

BiBTeX reference:

  author = {C. J. Scogings and K. A. Hawick},
  title = {{An Agent-Based Model of the Battle of Isandlwana}},
  booktitle = {Proc. 2012 Winter Simulation Conference},
  year = {2012},
  number = {CSTN-116},
  address = {Berlin, Germany},
  month = {9-12 December},
  publisher = {WSC},
  institution = {Computer Science, Massey University},
  timestamp = {2011.05.16}

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