Definitions of simulation.

At university they told me always to start an essay by defining the terms I was using. I ran across the Free Dictionary which includes different definitions of simulation under different categories. Clearly the word is used by different disciplines with subtly different meanings – which in themselves are only a subset of the normal meaning. A little research confirmed this impression.

Financial: The use of a mathematical model to recreate a situation, often repeatedly, so that the likelihood of various outcomes can be more accurately estimated.

Computing: 1) The mathematical representation of the interaction of real-world objects. See scientific application. (2) The execution of a machine language program designed to run in a foreign computer.

Scientific application: An application that simulates real-world activities using mathematics. Real-world objects are turned into mathematical models and their actions are simulated by executing the formulas.

Medical: 1. Close resemblance or imitation, as of one symptom or disease by another. 2. Assumption of a false appearance. 3. Reproduction or representation, as of a potential situation or in experimental testing.

Wikipedia: A simulation is an imitation of some real device or state of affairs. Simulation attempts to represent certain features of the behavior of a physical or abstract system

General dictionary: An imitation; a sham. Assumption of a false appearance.
Imitation or representation, as of a potential situation or in experimental testing. Representation of the operation or features of one process or system through the use of another.

According to, in the civil law of Louisiana, a simulation is ” a contract that by mutual agreement does not express the true intent of the parties ” as well as “the act of imitating the behavior of some situation or some process by means of something suitably analogous (especially for the purpose of study or personnel training)”.

Cambridge Dictionaries online prefers: “to do or make something which looks real but is not real”.

Websters 1913 Dictionary prefers “The act of simulating, or assuming an appearance which is feigned, or not true; — distinguished from dissimulation, which disguises or conceals what is true. ”

– the sense of immorality has left the word: simulations are useful, not lies.
– some involve mathematics, some dont
– increasingly the purpose of the simulation becomes part of its definition: training; estimating outcomes; studying real world situations.

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