ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Simulating Systems with This Intuitive (and Free!) Tool

Posted by Plish on March 8, 2012

Many years ago while working in the Rehab.-R&D wing of the Hines VA hospital, I was modelling how urinary bladders fill and empty.  The goal was to better understand what was going on so that we could design appropriate interventions.

I used a software package called TUTSIM.  It was a relatively easy to use package and it opened my eyes to the powers of system simulation.  I still do system modelling, mostly using spreadsheets.  It’s adequate, but it lacks the intuitiveness of something like TUTSIM.  I’m always on the lookout, then, for something easy to use, and yet, low-cost.

Yesterday, I came across Insight Maker.  This free, web-based simulation site fits the bill nicely.  Its self-explanatory, graphical interface enables people of all experience levels to program simulations of varying complexities.  Best of all, these simulations can be shared via the web.  This means people can change the variables and see the results for themselves.  (Yes, seeing is believing, especially when you can manipulate a model, and see how the results were reached!)

As with any software, the more extensive the support community, the more you can usually get out of the application.  Insight Maker is no exception, and thankfully there are plenty of resources. First off, you can always check out the Insight Maker Wiki .  For more extensive training, take advantage of these free webinars.

The Insight Maker website has multiple support groups, as well as premade simulations that you can tap into and use in your own simulations.

On LinkedIn? Check out the LinkedIn group on Systems Thinking (where I found out about Insight Maker) and there’s even a Systems Thinking Wiki.

So, never fear! If you get stuck with Insight Maker, there are plenty of  ‘ropes’ you can grab to pull yourself to safety.

In closing, if you’re modelling systems(biological, social or otherwise), or if you’d like to start, check out Insight Maker.  I think you’ll be excited by the possibilities.

(If you’d like to check out a simulation, here’s a classic “Predator/Prey” simulation.  Enjoy!)

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One Response to “Simulating Systems with This Intuitive (and Free!) Tool”

  1. […] optimizing a medical product design.  I’ve been using Insight Maker, which I blogged about before.  Check out the SystemsWiki, very cool and full of tons of info.  Insight Maker is simple to […]

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