8An Empirical Study Comparing Model Development in Discrete-Event Simulation and System Dynamics*

Antuela Tako and Stewart Robinson

School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, UK

8.1 Introduction

Simulation is a modelling tool widely used in operational research (OR), where computer models are deployed to understand and experiment with a system (Pidd, 2004). Two of the most established simulation approaches are discrete-event simulation (DES) and system dynamics (SD). They both started and evolved almost simultaneously with the advent of computers (Wolstenholme, 1990; Robinson, 2005), but very little communication existed between these fields (Lane, 2000; Brailsford and Hilton, 2001). This is, however, changing with more DES and SD academics and practitioners showing an interest in the other's world (Morecroft and Robinson, 2005). Unfortunately there is little assistance for this interest, since work reporting on comparisons of the two simulation approaches is limited. The comparisons that exist are mostly opinion based, derived from the authors' personal views based on their field of expertise. Hence, little understanding exists regarding the differences and similarities between the two simulation approaches. More specifically, this chapter explores the model development process as followed by expert modellers in each field.

Both DES and SD models are simplified representations of a system developed with a view to understanding its performance over time and ...

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