Simulation and GoldSim


FAQs about simulation in general, as well as basic questions about GoldSim



If you have further questions please contact us via the GoldSim Support Desk.


What is dynamic simulation?

As used here, simulation is defined as the process of creating a model (i.e., an abstract representation or facsimile) of an existing or proposed system (e.g., a project, a business, a mine, a watershed, a forest, the organs in your body) in order to identify and understand those factors which control the system and/or to predict (forecast) the future behavior of the system. Almost any system which can be quantitatively described using equations and/or rules can be simulated.
Learn more: Basic Simulation Concepts

What is Monte Carlo simulation?

Monte Carlo (or probabilistic) simulation is a type of simulation that explicitly and quantitatively represents uncertainties. As a result, the outputs of a Monte Carlo simulation are not single values, but are probability distributions.
Learn more: Monte Carlo Simulation

Why and when should I use simulation? What value does it add?

Simulation is a decision support tool that allows you to evaluate, compare and optimize alternative designs, plans and policies. It should be used when the consequences of a proposed action, plan or design cannot be directly and immediately observed (i.e., the consequences are delayed in time and/or dispersed in space) and/or it is simply impractical or prohibitively expensive to test the alternatives directly.
Learn more: When to Use Simulation

What is GoldSim?

GoldSim is a powerful and flexible probabilistic simulation platform for visualizing and dynamically simulating nearly any kind of physical, financial or organizational system. You build a model in an intuitive manner by literally drawing a picture (an influence diagram) of your system. In a sense, GoldSim is like a "visual spreadsheet" that allows you to graphically create and manipulate data and equations. GoldSim moves beyond spreadsheets, however, by making it much easier for you to evaluate how systems evolve over time, and predict their future behavior.
Learn more: What is GoldSim?

What are the different kinds of simulation tools? Where does GoldSim fit in?

Because simulation is such a powerful tool, a wide variety of simulation tools are available. The most common types of simulation tools include discrete event simulators, system dynamics programs, and spreadsheets. GoldSim is a hybrid simulator that shares aspects of all of these approaches.
Learn more: How is GoldSim Different from Other Simulation Software?

How is GoldSim different from discrete event simulators?

Discrete simulators generally rely on a transaction-flow approach to modeling systems. They are generally designed for simulating detailed processes such as call centers, factory operations, and shipping facilities. Although GoldSim can simulate discrete events, it was designed as a hybrid simulator that simultaneously simulates both continuous and discrete processes. As such, it is best suited to simulate systems that have many diverse components that must be coupled together in a consistent manner in order to understand the behavior of the entire system (e.g., strategic business models, supply chains, portfolios of assets and/or projects, complex programs).
Learn more: How is GoldSim Different from Discrete Event Simulators?

How is GoldSim different from System Dynamics tools?

System dynamics software (such as Stella, iThink, Vensim, and Powersim) is based on the standard stock and flow approach developed by Professor Jay W. Forrester at MIT in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Models based on system dynamics are built using three principal element types (stocks, flows, and converters), and put emphasis on understanding the feedback structure of systems. System dynamics software packages are typically used for simulating business and organizational systems and simple engineering and scientific systems. Although GoldSim is similar to system dynamics programs in many ways (and can simulate any system that can be modeled by these tools), GoldSim moves beyond the relatively restrictive stock and flow syntax in order to more realistically model complex systems. GoldSim also focuses much more on creating probabilistic models by providing powerful tools for simulating uncertain and stochastic systems.
Learn more: How is GoldSim Different from System Dynamics?

How is GoldSim different from spreadsheet add-ins like @Risk by Palisades and Crystal Ball by Oracle?

A number of spreadsheet add-ins, such as @RISK by Palisades Corporation and Crystal Ball by Oracle, allow you to define spreadsheet cells as probability distributions and conduct Monte Carlo simulations within spreadsheets cells. Although these tools provide an incremental improvement over simple spreadsheets, they still suffer from weaknesses inherent to spreadsheet-based approaches. GoldSim specifically addresses these weaknesses and provides a powerful and flexible improvement over spreadsheets for building quantiative models.
Learn more: Moving Beyond Spreadsheets with GoldSim

What can GoldSim do that I can't do in a spreadsheet?

Although spreadsheets are very useful for accounting tasks and managing lists of items, they have significant weaknesses when used for quantitative dynamic modeling tasks. GoldSim specifically addresses these weaknesses and provides a powerful and flexible improvement over spreadsheets for building quantiative models. In addition, because GoldSim can link seamlessly to spreadsheets, you can still use them as databases for inputs and outputs, and even as subroutines for specialized calculations.
Learn more: Moving Beyond Spreadsheets with GoldSim

How long have you been in business?

GoldSim development began in 1990 within Golder Associates, an international engineering consulting firm. The GoldSim development group subsequently operated as a separate profit center within Golder Associates for a number of years. In order to provide the flexibility required to continue to grow the business into new arenas and better service our growing list of customers and clients, the GoldSim development team purchased all of the software rights from Golder Associates and established a new, independent company, GoldSim Technology Group, on January 31, 2004.
Learn more: GoldSim History

What kinds of applications can GoldSim be used for?

GoldSim is a general-purpose probabilistic simulation platform, and as such, has been utilized for a wide range of diverse applications, ranging from simulating long-term strategic plans for manufacturing firms to modeling disease transmission, to evaluating the risks associated with space missions. Most GoldSim applications fall into one of three categories: 1) environmental systems modeling; 2) business and economic modeling; and 3) engineered systems modeling.
Learn more: GoldSim Applications

Who uses GoldSim? Who are your customers?

GoldSim models are typically built by engineers, financial modelers, scientists and other quantitive analysts. The ultimate audience for the models, however, are typically decision-makers (i.e., managers, regulators, and other stakeholders). GoldSim is used by a wide range of government, commercial and academic organizations in nearly 60 countries worldwide. Over half of our customers are outside of North America.
Learn more: GoldSim Customers

What platforms does GoldSim run on?

GoldSim is a Windows application, and runs on Windows 7 and above.

How Does GoldSim Maintain Quality Assurance?

GoldSim is developed and maintained according to a rigorous set of Software Configuration Management Procedures to ensure quality. These procedures include requirements for the following:

Source Code Revision Control: Each time a file (e.g., a source code module) is modified, a new revision (or version) of the file is created. Revision control provides a mechanism for saving and managing all the revisions of a file in an archive (i.e., a database), dating from the time the file was first entered into the revision control system.

Change Control and Tracking: Change tracking is the act of managing software problem reports and change requests submitted by users and/or members of the software development team. A problem report is associated with an apparent or actual defect (i.e., a bug) in the code or documentation. A change request is associated with a suggested modification or improvement to the software or documentation. A change tracking system is a database of all reported defects and requests. This database describes all changes made to the software.

Testing and Verification: All code modifications are thoroughly tested by the software development team. Prior to release of a new version, the program also undergoes an extensive set of verification tests to ensure that the changes work as intended and have not introduced any new problems. The tests are described in a Verification Plan, and the results of the verification are documented in a Verification Report.

Documentation: Throughout the process of addressing a modification to the source code, requirements and design specifications are produced (if the change is significant). Typically the requirements and design evolve somewhat as the task is evaluated in more detail. As such, these documents (which may be formal documents or simply descriptions in the change tracking system), are temporary tools for communication, and cease to be used or referred to after the changes are made. The final requirements and design details are integrated into the User Documentation, which becomes the “as built” and definitive statement of the new functionality.


Making Better Decisions In An Uncertain World