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simulationthe electronic copying or modelling of unique objects. The most famous sociological application of the term is by BAUDRILLARD (1983). He contends that contemporary society is so thoroughly saturated with electronic models and versions of unique objects that distinctions between reality and fiction are no longer valid. See also AURA, HYPERREALITY.
A broad collection of methods used to study and analyze the behavior and performance of actual or theoretical systems. Simulation studies are performed, not on the real-world system, but on a (usually computer-based) model of the system created for the purpose of studying certain system dynamics and characteristics. The purpose of any model is to enable its users to draw conclusions about the real system by studying and analyzing the model. The major reasons for developing a model, as opposed to analyzing the real system, include economics, unavailability of a “real” system, and the goal of achieving a deeper understanding of the relationships between the elements of the system.
Simulation can be used in task or situational training areas in order to allow humans to anticipate certain situations and be able to react properly; decision-making environments to test and select alternatives based on some criteria; scientific research contexts to analyze and interpret data; and understanding and behavior prediction of natural systems, such as in studies of stellar evolution or atmospheric conditions.
With simulation a decision maker can try out new designs, layouts, software programs, and systems before committing resources to their acquisition or implementation; test why certain phenomena occur in the operations of the system under consideration; compress and expand time; gain insight about which variables are most important to performance and how these variables interact; identify bottlenecks in material, information, and product flow; better understand how the system really operates (as opposed to how everyone thinks it operates); and compare alternatives and reduce the risks of decisions.
The word “system” refers to a set of elements (objects) interconnected so as to aid in driving toward a desired goal. This definition has two connotations: First, a system is made of parts (elements) that have relationships between them (or processes that link them together). These relationships or processes can range from relatively simple to extremely complex. One of the necessary requirements for creating a “valid” model of a system is to capture, in as much detail as possible, the nature of these interrelationships. Second, a system constantly seeks to be improved. Feedback (output) from the system must be used to measure the performance of the system against its desired goal. Both of these elements are important in simulation. See Systems engineering
Systems can be classified in three major ways. They may be deterministic or stochastic (depending on the types of elements that exist in the system), discrete-event or continuous (depending on the nature of time and how the system state changes in relation to time), and static or dynamic (depending on whether or not the system changes over time at all). This categorization affects the type of modeling that is done and the types of simulation tools that are used.
Models, like the systems they represent, can be static or dynamic, discrete or continuous, and deterministic or stochastic. Simulation models are composed of mathematical and logical relations that are analyzed by numerical methods rather than analytical methods. Numerical methods employ computational procedures to run the model and generate an artificial history of the system. Observations from the model runs are collected, analyzed, and used to estimate the true system performance measures. See Model theory
There is no single prescribed methodology in which simulation studies are conducted. Most simulation stuides proceed around four major areas: formulating the problem, developing the model, running the model, and analyzing the output. Statistical inference methods allow the comparison of various competing system designs or alternatives. For example, estimation and hypothesis testing make it possible to discuss the outputs of the simulation and compare the system metrics.
Many of the applications of simulation are in the area of manufacturing and material handling systems. Simulation is taught in many engineering and business curricula with the focus of the applications also being on manufacturing systems. The characteristics of these systems, such as physical layout, labor and resource utilization, equipment usage, products, and supplies, are extremely amenable to simulation modeling methods. See Computer-integrated manufacturing, Flexible manufacturing system
See also emulation, Markov chain.
Usenet newsgroup: news:comp.simulation.