[Humanist] 27.831 Busa and Cage

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Feb 28 07:55:18 CET 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 831.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 04:31:06 +0000
        From: Stanislav Roudavski <srou at unimelb.edu.au>
        Subject: Busa and Cage

Is the historical progression of computing in science illustrative here? Specifically, the transformative use of simulation/modelling?

The following is from:

Keller, Evelyn Fox (2003 [2000]). 'Models, Simulation, and 'Computer Experiments'', in The Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation, ed. by Hans Radder (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press), pp. 198-215, pp. 201, 202

"Computer simulation may have started out as little more than a mechanical extension of conventional methods of numerical analysis, where what was being "simulated" were the precomputer, handwritten equations and where the early deprecatory sense of the term was still very much in place, but such methods rapidly grew so effective that they began to challenge the status of the original, soon threatening to displace the very equations they were designed to simulate. Over the course of time, evolving practices of computer simulation generated qualitatively different ways of doing science in which the meaning as well as the site of "theory," of "modeling," and eventually of "experiment" and "data" all came in for similar dislocations: Simulation came to lose its earlier sense of ontological inferiority, its status of "pretender," but also its sense of epistemological inferiority, at first nothing more than a mechanization of the lowliest form of scientific work, numerical computation."


"Provisionally, I suggest three such stages: (i) the use of the computer to extract solutions from prespecified but mathematically intractable sets of equations by means of either conventional or novel methods of numerical analysis; (2) the use of the computer to follow the dynamics of systems of idealized particles ("computer experiments") in order to identify the salient features required for physically realistic approximations (or models); (3) the construction of models (theoretical and/or "practical") of phenomena for which no general theory exists and for which only rudimentary indications of the underlying dynamics of interaction are available. With the growing success of these practices, use of the new techniques (as well as reliance upon them) increased steadily, inevitably enhancing the perceived epistemological and even ontological value of the simulation in question."

Dr Stanislav Roudavski

The University of Melbourne
Senior Lecturer in Digital Architectural Design

Elseware Collective; ExLab
Founding Partner

personal: http://stanislavroudavski.net
collaborative: http://elsewarecollective.com, http://www.exlab.org
publications: http://unimelb.academia.edu/StanislavRoudavski/Papers
tutorials: https://vimeo.com/exlab

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