Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 9, 2022, 6:21 a.m. Humanist 35.580 - numerical simulation in (digital) humanities

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 580.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2022-03-08 15:42:15+00:00
        From: Fishwick, Paul <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.574: numerical simulation in (digital) humanities & further questions

Dear Oyvind:

Numerical simulation has coverage in numerical analysis, but has also been
associated with research in modelling and simulation, ongoing since the 
early days of the Society for Computer Simulation (SCS). I would say that 
this work was definitely research in the engineering sense. But also in the 
operations research (OR) sense--the UK OR Society coming to mind.

Here are some thoughts on your two questions:

"I have two further questions on this topic.

First, is there, in the context of the humanities and cultural heritage, an
important difference between numerical simulation and simulation in general?"

'Simulation' generally means likeness. I recall early TV comments to the effect
that "this is only a simulation." Beyond similarity, there is analogue computing
involving modelling systems--not digital. Analogue computers dominate digital
in terms of timeline: from Antikythera to the 1950s. Medieval tower clocks, 
for instance, are models of the apparent motion of the sun. Analogue is still 
around in abundance but I would agree that most practical simulation is digital.

"And second, following up on the previous one: in games studies, the concept of
simulation is central; video (and other) games are seen as simulation systems.
Is this relevant to discussions about numerical simulation as a research

Simulation (whether discrete or continuous) represents vital research. Within
a cultural context, there should be considerable material on research methods

Two closing points: let's not forget analogue, and let's not forget the research
and practice of modelling, necessary for simulation.


Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished University Chair of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
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
Twitter: @PaulFishwick
ONLINE: Webex,Collaborate, TEAMS, Zoom, Skype, Hangout

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