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How is simulation achieved?

Explore the ways in which simulation is accomplished.
Now that we’ve covered where simulation can be used, let’s consider the methods that are available for simulation.

Simulation can be accomplished in several ways:

  • By hand (see Buffon’s Needle experiment)
  • Spreadsheets (which we’ll cover in a later short course)
  • Programming in general-purpose languages (eg Java, VB.Net or Python)
  • Simulation packages (eg, Simul8, Arena, ProModel or FlexSim)

What is in a simulation program?

There are particular features that are found in most simulation programs, which you need to be aware of to really understand how simulation works. These are:

  • Simulated time: a variable that keeps track of simulated time.
  • System ‘state’: variables maintained by the simulation program that define the condition or performance of the system – for example, tracking the number of pallets in a queue.
  • Events: points in the process when a system changes state – for example, the arrival of pallets into the queue, departure from the queue, or when a forklift changes from busy to idle.

Your task

What methods, if any, are you most familiar with? Share your thoughts in the comments.

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Simulation for Logistics: An Introduction

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