Although computer-based simulation has a relatively modern history, the basic elements of simulation are as old as mathematics. Predicting the trajectory of a cannon ball or the pathways of the planets makes use of the two essential elements of simulation: mathematical equations that describe behavior and a means to solve those equations under realistic conditions.
In the past 50 years, simulation and computing performance have experienced parallel advances and facilitated breakthroughs in science and medicine. Now, virtually any biological system can have a simulation counterpart cat can play numerous roles in biomedical research and clinical practice. Performing experiments using computer simulation enables access to parameters that are otherwise impossible, impractical, or unethical to measure in a physical experiment. Simulation is also used to create predictive models that integrate vast amounts of diverse parameters and behaviors; this diverse and broad range of parameters and features are necessary to even begin to capture realistic behavior.
In the context of the Center, simulation is defined as predicting the behavior of cells, tissues, and organs under simplifying assumptions over known anatomical domains in response to pre-determined boundary or initial conditions. The Center provides biomedical scientists with access to software tools that allow them to define the assumptions, the domains, and the initial or boundary conditions. The scientists will then be able to carry out simulations using a variety of algorithms. The Center's continued focus on multi-scale modeling of electrical activity in the body allows for a range of diverse projects, from shocking a heart that has fallen into fatal, uncontrolled, electrical spasm to stimulating bone growth into metallic implants in amputees.