Computer models are used to predict and investigate how a device or process might behave given a certain set of conditions. The rules of a model describe an object or process and the variables that can be changed to affect the way it behaves. Incomplete or poorly expressed rules will make inaccurate and unreliable predictions.
- Car manufacturers use models to test the effects of crashes on new cars, which is a lot more cost effective than building and crashing real cars.
- Civil engineers use models to predict the effects of natural hazards such as strong winds or earthquakes on designs for new buildings and bridges.
- Many businesses use financial models to investigate ways of cutting down costs and improving their profitability.
- Weather forecasting services use very complicated models of the atmosphere to predict how the weather will behave
- Spreadsheet packages
- Special programming languages e.g. SIMSCRIPT and SIMULA
- Application packages specially designed for modelling e.g. ‘Model Builder’
- A computer simulation is a special type of computer model which recreates a system, that might exist outside the computer
- Often used to train people how to deal with situations that are too difficult, expensive or dangerous to recreate and practise for real
- Best example of a simulation is a flight simulator
- A flight simulator consists of a working replica of the flight deck of an aeroplane, which is mounted on hydraulic supports that are used to create a realistic feeling of movement.
- Simulation software provides a view of the simulated outside world through the cockpit window, controls the instrument readings and responds to commands given by the pilot.
- The main advantage is that pilots can practise how to deal with dangerous situations without putting lives at risk or damaging expensive equipment.
- Expensive prototypes or full size mock-ups don’t need to be built
- No equipment is damaged
- People are not put in any danger
- Modifications can be made easily and re-tested quickly
- The results depend on how good the model is — a poor model will give unreliable results
- Simulations can’t completely re-create the pressures that a person might be under in a real-life situation