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CANCELLED: CM Seminar Series: What is a Simulation?

Speaker Name: 
Chaim Gingold
Speaker Title: 
Freelance Designer & Independent Developer
Start Time: 
Monday, March 9, 2020 - 12:00pm
End Time: 
Monday, March 9, 2020 - 1:00pm
Silicon Valley Campus
CM Seminar Series

This seminar event has been cancelled.


From pebbles to pencils, we have always used tools to think with. Engineers and scientists of the 1920’s and 30’s faced newfound problems, like designing regional power grids, whose complexities defied existing tools. This prompted them to create analogs: dynamic models of everything from power grids, airplanes, and bridges to vacuum tubes, atoms, and logic. We can understand these simulations, I argue, as representations offering new affordances for problem solving. Foremost, they afforded experimentation. And by offering a domain for analogizing with, simulations afforded representational flexibility. Moreover, analogs afforded thinking of problems in terms that were simultaneously graphical, symbolic, and tangible—reflecting their creators’ disposition towards multiple modes of representation and knowing. Simulation, I argue, is predicated upon a capacity for imagination, perceiving self-similar patterns in the universe, and thinking across multiple forms of representation.


Chaim Gingold ( is a designer and theorist who creates and studies powerful representations for playing with, learning about, and reshaping the world. He created an interactive science book made of toys that simulates processes of Earth called Earth: A Primer (2015), and was the design lead for the Spore Creature Creator (2008). He is also collaborating with Shawn Douglass at UCSF on biophysics simulation tools. His design expertise and research interests encompass games, play, simulations, authoring tools, cities, and the history of technology. Chaim received his Ph.D. from UCSC for research on SimCity, the history of computer simulation, software visualization, and principles of play design. His work has been featured by WIRED, CNN, Apple, and the New York Times. He is currently writing a book on SimCity and the history of computer simulation for MIT Press.
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