Discrete Event Simulation: A Population Growth Example

Arnaldo Perez Castano. MSDN Magazine. 2016-03-01.
Throughout history, the ability to simulate has aided the development of multiple sciences. Medical models simulating the human body enhance the study of human anatomy. Computer simulation games such as “World of Warcraft” recreate an entire fantasy world and “Flight Simulator” helps train pilots on the ground. Various simulation programs explore responses to terrorist attacks, pandemic diseases and other possible crises. Even the simulated dinosaurs in the film “Jurassic Park” hint at the broad application of simulation and its potential.
Simulation is a technique in which a real-life system or process is emulated by a designed model. The model encapsulates all of the system’s features and behaviors; the simulation is the execution of this system over time. There are several stages to designing a simulation:
Defining the system to be modeled, which involves studying the problem at hand, identifying the properties of the environment and specifying the goals to reach.
Formulating the model, which includes defining all of its variables and their logical relations and creating the necessary flow diagrams.
Defining the data the model will require to produce the desired outcome.
Producing a computerized implementation of the model.
Verifying whether the implemented model satisfies the design.
Validating through comparison that the simulator actually represents the real system being simulated.
Experimenting to generate desired data using the simulator.
Analyzing and interpreting results from the simulator and making decisions based on these results.
Documenting the model created and the simulator as a tool.
Simulations generally comprise either a continuous process or discrete events. To simulate a weather system, for example, the tracking occurs continuously as all elements are constantly changing. Hence, the temperature variable placed against the time variable would be represented by a continuous curve. In contrast, airplane takeoffs or landings occur as points in time and, therefore, a simulation can consider only those precise moments or events and discard everything else. This type of simulation is known as discrete event simulation (DES), and it’s what I’ll discuss in this article.

[Discrete Event Simulation: A Population Growth Example]


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