Chapter 5

Modeling and Simulation of Complex Systems: Pitfalls and Limitations of Interpretation 1

5.1. Introduction

This chapter does not aim or claim to go into mathematical detail concerning the wide variety of models currently used in simulation. Several works have been published on this subject, covering general formalisms and particular instances and providing illustration of a multitude of applications. In this chapter, we shall discuss the way in which certain formal aspects inherent in modeling techniques can, and must, be considered when interpreting the results of a simulation, particularly in relation to their generality and generalization, that is, their validity outside of the domain initially considered. As any experienced user of simulations of fairly complex systems knows intuitively, or as a result of (often painful) failures, great care is required when using simulation results, especially when considering global (or globalizing) properties.

It is thus interesting to return to certain fundamental points, such as non-linearity, computability, and continuous/discontinuous dialectics, and to look at them from the angle of their impact on activities in the field of complex systems engineering. This allows us, among other things, to understand why certain decisions, for example, in the financial sector or in the field of information and communications systems, have a chance (or no chance) of being effective. It also helps us see why it is difficult to understand and ...

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