Scientists attempt to know and understand reality and seek to achieve this goal in different ways. Computers provide a new tool for doing so. Reality can be grasped and comprehended not only by applying traditional procedures with which science is familiar (systematic observation, laboratory experiments, development of theories), but also by recreating it inside a computer, that is by simulating it. Although recourse to simulations is increasingly widespread in all fields of scientific and technological research, they continue to represent a novel and quite untraditional approach. This volume defines the nature of simulations and illustrates the impressive potential. The author's first goal is to explain what simulations are in general, in all types of science, what advantages they entail and the problems they bring about. The second part of the text discusses simulations in the human sciences. Simulations will have a remarkable impact in all scientific disciplines, but their consequences will be nothing short of revolutionary in the sciences that study human phenomena, for simulations may be able to help human sciences overcome their relative backwardness with respect to natural science.
Domenico Parisi is a researcher at the Psychology Institute of the National Research Council, which he directed from 1986 to 1994.