Early Computational Modelling: Physical Models, Electrical Analogies and Analogue Computers

  • Charles Care
Chapter
Part of the Automation, Collaboration, & E-Services book series (ACES, volume 1)

Abstract

The application of computation models and simulations is ubiquitous, their use is key to modern science and engineering. Often described as the material culture of science, models demonstrate how natural it is for humans to encode meaning in an artefact, and then manipulate that artefact in order to derive new knowledge. Today, many familiar models are computational. They run on digital computers, and often demand extensive processing power. In becoming a primary tool for modelling, the widespread use of modern computers has shaped the very meaning of technical terms such as ’model’ and ’simulation’. But what did pre-digital modelling and simulation look like?For many, the first technology to support a form of simulation that is today recognisable as computational was electronic analogue computing.Analogue computers were a technology that was in wide use between 1940 and l970. As early modelling technologies, their history highlights the importance that modelling has always held within the history of computing.As modelling machines, analogue computers and electrical analogies represent a type of computing that was focused on knowledge generation and acquisition rather than information management and retrieval. Analogue technology provides an important window on the history of computing and its use as a modelling technology.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Care
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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