6th International Workshop

Data Analysis in Astronomy

«Livio Scarsi»

  “Modelling and Simulation in Science”

Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture

15 - 22 April 2007, Erice, Italy






“Modelling” and “Simulation” are key steps in the study of a System for providing the framework to develop a comprehensive theory for interpretation and prediction of observational data.

  • A “Model”, in the Mach approach, is suggested by the existing experimental results and the conditions imposed by general principles in order to justify coherently the observational panorama; its validity is graded by the capacity to suggest new experiments to validate or to contradict hypotheses adopted by the “Theory” in an open path to progress in knowledge and understanding.

  • A “Simulation” represents a virtual experiment conceived to check the predictions of the “Model” producing the expected results; its input is determinant when injected back in the generator to modify the primitive. This applies in general to the different fields of Science (Astrophysics, Cosmology, Geology, Biology, Economy, …).

 Modelling and simulation are strictly interconnected and mutually supporting. Simulations are developed on the basis of models and this interaction generates a powerful critical analysis of the process of using simulated experiments for theory validation. For example, it is possible the assessment with a high level of confidence of a “Data analysis method” by using data from a simulated experiment before applying it on the data set from a real experiment; naturally, whatever the detail of the simulation, the assessment will provide only necessary but not a priori sufficient conditions on the validity of the method.

Today simulation by virtual experiments can approximate the real world as it was not conceivable before; the rapid and innovating development of available supports, like the advent of faster nano-technology for grid and massive computing, open new perspectives for this field which assumes more and more a distinctive individuality involving the effort coordinated of statisticians, data analysts, and computer scientists.

The Workshop will address the basic approach to the word of simulation and modelling in three major branches of Science: Astrophysics, Biology and Climatology by reporting on the present status of art and adopted lines of research. The analysis of the interrelation and the impact of new technologies and innovative design on applied fields such as e.g. Medicine, Pharmacology, Earth environment will represent the logical fallout of the initiative. Today more than ever, it seems well-adequate the phrase, cited by various authors, "A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it not open".