Trough all these times, I have refused to invest some time to understand some concepts that a lot of people may consider as trivial. When many people/papers mention some metaheuristics buzz words like: "local optima", "hill climbing", "tabu search", "simulated annealing", "swarm optimization", "genetic algorithms", etc; it just freaked me out. I don't think I have enough time to drill down those academic literatures, which is too formal for a brief introduction.
However, I have found an e-book from Sean Luke of GMU. The "Essentials of Metaheuristics" book, that he wrote, is a perfect starter for beginners. It is presented in a rather casual (informal) language, which makes the reading less boring. Each concept is always presented with the accompanying pseudocode (great!!!). I am really satisfied with the eBook. I am considering buying the hardcopy also.
Surprisingly, Sean Luke is also the designer of an agent based simulation platform called MASON. Interesting..
I am still using Netlogo for making simulation and I find that the community (mailinglist) is really active and reliable. Based on my personal experience, there is always someone in the forum who will reply to your questions, even to the stupid ones (may be not too stupid :p). This is waaaay different with the Repast's (agent based simulation platform) community which is (basically) dead.
So the lesson is..: you should consider of building a live community to support the use of your platform. Great product with dead community has a great "likelihood" to die soon..
Once again, it is a great book, I finally understand that all those buzz words i mentioned before, have the same principle (the survival of the fittest). O yeah.. Sean Luke also mentioned another alternative e-book that you can use in learning the optimization heuristic topics: Global Optimization Algorithms: Theory and Application by Thomas Wiese. I never read it, but I may do it if the time permits.
OK have fun then..