Please see my new Agent Based Learning Systems consulting webpage at

I am interested in Computational Social Science. My specialty is the simulation of interpretive social science. I do sociological simulations of coevolving artificially intelligent agents. The agents may have neural or genetic inductive mechanisms. They display and read signs to figure each other out, and in doing so they create a symbol system and societal structures. This reading and display of signs is based on the sociological theory of symbolic interactionism. I call this methodology "Symbolic Interactionist Modeling"

I like to explore the principle of self-organization and of life as it lies in the dynamics of symbols.


I have a doctorate from the Computational Sciences and Informatics program at George Mason University, with a major in Computational Social Science. My advisor was Dr. John Grefenstette,a leader in the field of Genetic Algorithms.

My 1991 Master's thesis is the one of the first (or the first?) intelligent agent-based social science simulations. (if you know of an earlier one, please tell me!) Written before Holland's Echo, it was the first social simulation that I know of to use tags, but unlike Echo and its sucessors, it preserves autonomy.  It is a socio-economic simulation of employers and employees, each with a neural network, from which emerges status symbols, racism, social classes, and prejudice. It was published in Behavioral Science, in 1995.

My 1995 class project was an early example of differentiation in complex adaptive systems.  It is a simulation in which several socio-economic phenomena emerge, including a role-based division of labor, price, money, and a sign system (tags). Agents in this simulation each have a genetic algorithm and coevolve. It was published on Brad Cox's popular Virtual School website in 1995, in the NIST conference in 1996, in The Economist in 1997, and later in JASSS. This project is the precursor of my doctoral dissertation, SISTER: A Symbolic Interactionist Simulation of Trade and Emergent Roles (pdf) or (ps).

Please see my CV (doc) to learn more about my background and publications (pdf) .


Last modified December, 2011

Debbie Vakas Duong,

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