Discrete-event modeling has long been used for logistics and scheduling problems, while multi-agent modeling closely matches human decision-making process. In this paper, a metric-based comparison between the traditional discrete-event and the emerging agent-based modeling approaches is reported. The case study involved the implementation of two functionally identical models based on a realistic, nontrivial, civil aircraft gas turbine global repair operation. The size, structural complexity, and coupling metrics from the two models were used to gauge the benefits and drawbacks of each modeling paradigm. The agent-based model was significantly better than the discrete-event model in terms of execution times, scalability, understandability, modifiability, and structural flexibility. In contrast, and importantly in an engineering context, the discrete-event model guaranteed predictable and repeatable results and was comparatively easy to test because of its single-threaded operation. However, neither modeling approach on its own possesses all these characteristics nor can each handle the wide range of resolutions and scales frequently encountered in problems exemplified by the case study scenario. It is recognized that agent-based modeling can emulate high-level human decision-making and communication closely while discrete-event modeling provides a good fit for low-level sequential processes such as those found in manufacturing and logistics.

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