Lecture: What are computer simulations? An assessment of developments

Speaker: Juan M. Durán from the TU Delft

April 5, 2024 | 16.00 to 18.00

University of Milano-Bicocca, Building U6, Room 23


Abstract: This lecture begins with a historical perspective on how computer simulations have been interpreted in the specialized literature. The aim is to show that there have been at least two main interpretations of computer simulations vis a vis mathematical models: one that considers the latter to be implemented as a computer simulation simpliciter, and one that recognizes a (possibly unique) methodology of simulations. Building on these findings, the lecture proceeds to discuss how key philosophical issues, such as explanation, representation, and the experimental role of computer simulations, are addressed differently depending on the aforementioned methodological and ontological commitments.


Juan M. Durán is a philosopher of science and computation. He is currently Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. He has been working on the intersection between philosophy of science, epistemology, ethics and technology, first with computer simulations and more recently with machine learning. He is the author of Computer Simulations in Science and Engineering (Springer, 2018). Prof. Durán was awarded the prestigious Herbert Simon Award in 2019.