To deepen our understanding of the complex systems that we study, we need to formulate quantitative and qualitative models and explore those models via computer simulation. At the IAS, we bring together researchers who work on such simulation based approaches.
Historically, simulation based science started at the end of the second world war in the physical, chemical, and engineering sciences. Pushed forward by powerful numerical algorithms and ever increasing computational speed, it slowly penetrated other scientific domains, e.g. climate modelling, weather prediction, and the life sciences. In the last two decades, driven forward by the abundance of available data, simulation based science has found its place in literally all realms of science, including medicine, social sciences and the humanities.
Simulation based science is all about formulating computational models of phenomena that we observe and performing computer simulations in order to deepen our understanding of the systems that underpin these phenomena. The aim is to predict their future behaviour or to find adaptations that would change their behaviour in some desired way. Simulation based science is sometimes called “the third pillar of science” and complements theory and experiments. Together they underpin the scientific method and strongly interact. Theory provides the necessary framework for computational models, experiments provide the data against which the computational models need to be validated, and numerical simulations may lead to new insights and theory or new hypotheses that are tested experimentally.
We have identified a substantial number of researchers that use various computational modelling and simulation methods, spread across all UvA faculties. By organising broad thematic meetings (4-5 per academic year) and hosting weekly club gatherings, we aim to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and development of new skills and methods.