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modeling and simulation (M&S)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Modeling and simulation (M&S) is the use of a physical or logical representation of a given system to generate data and help determine decisions or make predictions about the system. M&S is widely used in the social and physical sciences, engineering, manufacturing and product development, among many other areas.  

Applications of modeling and simulation include: 

  • Creating models of weather systems, simulating behavior based on available data to generate predictive information for forecasts. A hurricane forecast model, for example, is designed to predict a given storm's track and intensity, as well as related events such as storm surges. 
  • Simulating the effect of severe weather events like hurricanes and storm surges on infrastructure to guide the design of more resilient systems.  
  • Creating a program to model a social situation and observing the behavior of individuals in the simulation when the program runs. Social simulations can be used to yield predictive data about how things happen in real-world environments, such as how social norms develop.  
  • Simulating how a physical change to a system will affect its performance. For example, NASA has explored drone aerodynamics with logical models simulating air pressures and currents around the rotors. That information could potentially be used to develop designs that reduce turbulence, which would make the vehicles quieter in operation. 
This was last updated in September 2017

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