[SIGCIS-Members] 'simulation'

Willard McCarty willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Apr 8 01:44:46 PDT 2015

Another question regarding terminology. In "Models, Simulation, and 
'Computer Experiments'", Evelyn Fox Keller says that before the likely 
seeming date of 1947, when the OED records the first positive use of 
"simulation", the word "invariably meant deception" (p. 198). But a 
closer look, into publications of electrical engineers back to the early 
20th Century, reveals uses of 'simulation' straightforwardly to denote 
the behaviour of electrical circuits designed as analogues of physical 
phenomena. (My source is the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.) Despite hints 
that simulation was in effect being practiced in the 19th Century, e.g. 
by Kelvin and Babbage, I cannot find any use of the *word* to denote a 
constructed analogical likeness. Perhaps not coincidentally the first 
occurrences I've found coincide roughly with electricity becoming 
familiar enough that it could be used to explore less familiar phenomena 
rather than the other way around. (Charles Care's work bears on this point.)

Does anyone here know more?  (I did try the archive, but it reports a 
"ht://Dig error", commenting that, "Unable to read word database file 
Did you run htdig?")

Many thanks.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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