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There is a very important notion from The Sciences of the Artificial book by Herbert A. Simon, that the visible (to an external observer) behavior of an ant (its tracks, if you wish) is not due to its supposed intelligence, but mostly due to the obstacles in the environment.

Most of the models mimic and simulate (very naively) that observable behavior, not its origin.

When people cite "the map is not the territory" they mean this. Simulation is not even an experiment. It is mere an animation of a model - a cartoon.




It is swarm intelligence: How does the system keep finding successful paths in a changing environment? Can we take inspiration from this behavior to create better optimization algorithms?

Simulation can be a very beneficial experiment. See for instance: https://papers.nips.cc/paper/5351-searching-for-higgs-boson-...


Why not. I remember a paper which compares the behavior of foraging ants (they send more or less ants according to the rate of returned with food) to adjustment of the window size based on the data rate in TCP.

Simulations are not experiments. It is an animation of a formalized imagination, if you wish.




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