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Systems, Experts, and ComputersThe Systems Approach in Management and Engineering, World War II and After$
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Agatha C. Hughes and Thomas P. Hughes

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780262082853

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262082853.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 22 May 2022

The World in a Machine: Origins and Impacts of Early Computerized Global Systems Models

The World in a Machine: Origins and Impacts of Early Computerized Global Systems Models

(p.221) 8 The World in a Machine: Origins and Impacts of Early Computerized Global Systems Models
Systems, Experts, and Computers

Paul N. Edwards

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the origins of two types of simulation models, namely numerical models of weather and climate, and world-dynamics models that are offshoots of a general method known as “system dynamics.” By the 1960s, increasing computer power made possible detailed simulations of the general circulation of Earth’s atmosphere. This allowed scientists to simulate weather and climate—genuinely global systems. Computer pioneer Jay Forrester created techniques for simulating the dynamic behavior of large socio-technical systems during approximately the same period. He began in the late 1950s with factories, then proceeded to cities, eventually publishing a book on the general “principles of systems” in 1968, and finally, modeled “world dynamics” in the early 1970s. Under Forrester’s tutelage, the MIT System Dynamics Group used world-dynamics models as the basis for the controversial bestseller The Limits to Growth.

Keywords:   simulation models, numerical models, world dynamics models, system dynamics, genuinely global systems, Jay Forrester, socio-technical systems, principles of systems, world dynamics, System Dynamics Group

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