Robert Axtell

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Robert L. Axtell
Fields Computer modeling

George Mason University
Santa Fe Institute

Brookings Institution
Johns Hopkins University
Georgetown University
Alma mater CMU
Known for Agent-based modeling

Robert Axtell is a Professor at George Mason University, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, where he is Departmental Chair of the Department of Computational Social Science.[1] He is also a member of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute.[2]

Early life and Education

Axtell received his first degree at the University of Detroit in 1983 and earned his Ph.D. in Carnegie Mellon University in 1992,[3] where he studied computing, social science, and public policy.[1]


In the early 1990s, whilst still a graduate student, he met Joshua M. Epstein who was to become a key collaborator. This led to Axtell joining Epstein at the Brookings Institution[4] in 1992.[3][5] The pair developed a keen interest in mathematical modeling influenced by the work of Thomas Schelling, with their primary research interest the modeling of complex social, economic, and biological systems using computational agent based models.

In Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science From the Bottom Up, Epstein and Axtell wrote about the first large scale agent-based computational model, the Sugarscape, developed by Axtell, which they used to explore the role of social phenomenon such as seasonal migrations, pollution, sexual reproduction, combat, and transmission of disease and even culture.[4]

Whilst at Brookings, Axtell also undertook visiting roles at Georgetown University, New School University, Johns Hopkins University and the Santa Fe Institute.

In 2007 Axtell left Brookings for his current post at George Mason University.[3]

Axtell is also a member of the steering committee of the Atalaya Institute, using agent based models to help provide evidence to influence social policy.[6]

In 2013 Axtell became a visiting professor at Oxford's Hertford College during his sabbatical.

Selected publications

Axtell has authored and co-authored several works including:


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Rob Axtell |". George Mason University. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  2. "Robert Axtell | Santa Fe Institute". Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Prominent Scholar Robert Axtell Joins Mason Faculty". The Mason Gazette. George Mason University. October 3, 2006. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rauch, Jonathan (April 2002). "Seeing Around Corners" (PDF). Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  5. "Robert Axtell - Brookings Institution". Brookings Institution. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  6. "Robert Axtell". Atalaya Institute. Retrieved 3 February 2011.