Sensing Simulation Models


When I teach modeling and simulation, I tend to focus mostly on the structure of models. I start with a thorough discussion of time and systems concepts, and then move on to cover different sorts of dynamic models in both discrete and continuous space. In the past, I had relied on using examples purely from the real world in emphasizing the importance of modeling. For example, all fast food restaurants, manufacturing lines, and theme parks have one thing in common: queuing networks. A queuing network is a dynamic model abstraction of what happens in these things: objects (often people) wait in line, get served, and move on.  In teaching queuing, and other, models, I am trying something new this Fall. I am starting with human-interaction and media being the means by which to get students interested in modeling. For example, the single server queue (SSQ) shown above has an operation that can be both seen and heard. This one is programmed in Max/Msp (which is a visual language with strong roots in music, imagery, and video). The SSQ is experienced, by tying events to an audio synthesizer. Everything is in software. An SSQ becomes an audiovisual instrument.


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