[Humanist] 27.547 simulation

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Nov 22 10:14:01 CET 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 547.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com>                       (80)
        Subject: Re:  27.546 simulation?

  [2]   From:    "Robert A. Amsler" <amsler at cs.utexas.edu>                 (68)
        Subject: Re:  27.546 simulation?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2013 11:36:19 -0600
        From: Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  27.546 simulation?
        In-Reply-To: <20131121083653.821B176FE at digitalhumanities.org>


Willard
 Some answers below from one member of the modeling and
simulation community. Some of this is from my 1994 book

Simulation Model Design and Execution: Building Digital Worlds

-paul

…….

Paul Fishwick, PhD
Chair, ACM SIGSIM
Distinguished Chair of Arts & Technology 
   and Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
Blog: creative-automata.com

On Nov 21, 2013, at 2:36 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 546.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2013 06:58:52 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: simulation?
> 
> 
> What is a (computational) simulation? How does simulation differ from 
> modelling? What is the point of simulating? Where does one find 
> simulations in digital humanities? What is their role in these disciplines?
> 
> So far my answers have been as follows:
> 
> (1) A simulation is a computational analogue of a real-world system 
> based on knowledge of this system's components and how they interact.

Simulation is generally considered the overall process involving model building,
design, implementation, use, and testing/verification/validation. Target phenomena
are can be real-world (natural vs. artificial) or synthetic (worlds
used for education or entertainment).

> (2) "Model" used loosely can denote a simulation, but where they differ 
> a model is based on correspondence between its results and the object 
> modelled; a simulation is based on correspondence between its processes 
> and those of the simulated system.

I would call modeling a language-based activity used to distill knowledge.
So a behavioral model would capture the dynamics of something (e.g., finite
state machine, Petri net, mathematical model, System Dynamics model,
agent-based model). Languages can be textual, visual, and highly
interactive. The correspondence you mention is what I am calling
distillation. There is a mapping of representation performed.

> (3) The point of a simulation is to study otherwise unknowable or 
> unobservable behaviours of the real-world system.

Yes, one major goal is knowledge whether or not the system is real-world.
But in other cases, the goal may be entertainment (computer games).

> (4) In digital humanities so far simulations are found in virtual-world 
> constructs; some of these, such as Carolyn Lougee's "A World-Be 
> Gentleman" (1983) have been around for a long time and do not 
> necessarily involve visualisation. Prose- and poetry-writing software, 
> tried out in the 1960s and later, simulated human authorship; these  
> provoked some violent reactions, e.g. from F. R. Leavis.

I would say that in digital humanities, there are more possible roles for
modeling and simulation. I am working up a talk related to this for the DHCS
conference at DePaul in early December.

> (5) The roles of simulation in the humanities are in teaching (e.g. Lougee's 
> program) and in speculative and counterfactual probing of the unknown.

Nicely put.

-paul

Paul Fishwick, PhD
Chair, ACM SIGSIM
Distinguished Chair of Arts & Technology 
   and Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
Blog: creative-automata.com



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2013 23:28:40 -0600
        From: "Robert A. Amsler" <amsler at cs.utexas.edu>
        Subject: Re:  27.546 simulation?
        In-Reply-To: <20131121083653.821B176FE at digitalhumanities.org>


This is perhaps not based on humanities per se, but, for me:

(1) A simulation is what happens when a model is moved through time.
(2) The purpose of a simulation is normally to make predictions about the
behavior of a real-world system; to find discrepancies between the model
the simulation exercises over time and the real-world system and thus
provide feedback as to whether the model and the simulation's rules for
how circumstances will affect the model are correct or not; and whether
changes in the model or the simulation's rules will yield a closer
approximation to the real-world system. Both the model and the simulation
may be called upon to predict what will happen in a real-world situation
that may or may not have ever happened.

I would expect models and simulations to be useful in the digital
humanities in terms of making predictions based on the existence of known
past artifacts of the hypothetical existence of unknown past artifacts and
the creation of new artifacts in the future. Such predictions could be
descriptive of the properties of the artifacts, their locations, their
creators, their times of creation. Authorship/Creator would seem to be a
predictive goal. Subject matter would seem to be a predictive goal.



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