Simulation Modeling and Arena: An interview with author Manuel Rossetti

Features

  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 13 Aug 2015

Last month, Wiley was proud to publish the second edition of Simulation Modeling and Arena, which emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning statistical analysis and model building through the use of comprehensive examples, problems sets, and software applications.

With a unique blend of theory and applications, Simulation Modeling and Arena, Second Edition integrates coverage of statistical analysis and model building to emphasize the importance of both topics in simulation. Featuring introductory coverage on how simulation works and why it matters, the Second Edition expands coverage on static simulation and the applications of spreadsheets to perform simulation.

The new edition also introduces the use of the open source statistical package, R, for both performing statistical testing and fitting distributions. In addition, the models are presented in a clear and precise pseudo-code form, which aids in understanding and model communication. Simulation Modeling and Arena, Second Edition also features:

  • Updated coverage of necessary statistical modeling concepts such as confidence interval construction, hypothesis testing, and parameter estimation
  • Additional examples of the simulation clock within discrete event simulation modeling involving the mechanics of time advancement by hand simulation
  • A guide to the Arena Run Controller, which features a debugging scenario
  • New homework problems that cover a wider range of engineering applications in transportation, logistics, healthcare, and computer science
  • A related website with an Instructor’s Solutions Manual, PowerPoint slides, test bank questions, and data sets for each chapter

Simulation Modeling and Arena, Second Edition is an ideal textbook for upper-undergraduate and graduate courses in modeling and simulation within statistics, mathematics, industrial and civil engineering, construction management, business, computer science, and other departments where simulation is practiced. The book is also an excellent reference for professionals interested in mathematical modeling, simulation, and Arena.

thumbnail image: Simulation Modeling and Arena: An interview with author Manuel Rossetti

1. Congratulations on the publication of the second edition of Simulating Modeling and Arena, which emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning statistical analysis and model building through the use of comprehensive examples, problems sets, and software applications. How did the book come about in the first place?

I had used a competitor book for many years. As the number of frustrations associated with the competitor book grew, I realized that I could probably make a better book myself. For me, it was important for a textbook in this area to have a solid foundation on the statistical aspects of simulation as well as the modelling. Unfortunately, this causes many instructors to either use two books or to create additional supplemental materials. Since the cost of textbooks is so significant, I felt that students and instructors would really appreciate an integrated approach that covered the simulation software and also covered the statistical aspects of simulation.

2. What were the main objectives that you had in mind when originally writing the book?

The main objective was to have a book that permitted students to get a hands-on experience working with simulation software without sacrificing the coverage of the mathematical and statistical aspects of simulation. I want the students to be prepared both for performing simulation in industry as well as getting ready for more advanced study in graduate school.

3. What can the reader expect in this second edition?

In this second edition, I have emphasized the use of spreadsheet software. This is done to introduce some of the fundamental concepts such as random number, random variable, and statistical estimation in a more familiar environment. I also wanted to introduce students to the statistical package, R, so that they can begin to leverage it when doing simulation analysis.

4. Were there any areas that you found more challenging to write or update this time? If so, why?

I think the key challenge was to keep the mathematical aspects at an undergraduate level. It is also a challenge to present modelling. How to build a simulation model is not a trivial skill to teach. Using examples (that are not too simple or too complex) and following a recipe or model building pattern is how I tried to address this challenge.

I was standing on my high school bus and a senior allowed me to sit down. He noticed that I had a bunch of math and science books and asked if I was going to study engineering in college. As the first in my family to go to college, I was clueless about this career path. I ask my mother to take me to the library so that I could look up information on engineering. I read all of the definitions of engineering and industrial engineering was the only one that explicitly had the word “people” in it. I said to myself, what could be more complicated or complex than designing systems that optimize and serve people? This intrigued me. Because I like to improve complex systems involving people, simulation became a natural tool to use because of its flexibility in modelling.

5. Who should read the book and why?

The book is primarily aimed at undergraduate students in industrial engineering; however, quantitative business students, student in operations research, and computer science will also find the material very approachable. Practitioners trying to learn the Arena simulation language could also use the text. It can also be used for an introductory level graduate course on simulation.

6. Why is this book still of particular interest?

Predictive analytics and simulation modelling are very hot topics. Simulation is a key tool/technique for making quantitative based decision making. This makes the text both timely and useful.

7. What was it that inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

I was standing on my high school bus and a senior allowed me to sit down. He noticed that I had a bunch of math and science books and asked if I was going to study engineering in college. As the first in my family to go to college, I was clueless about this career path. I ask my mother to take me to the library so that I could look up information on engineering. I read all of the definitions of engineering and industrial engineering was the only one that explicitly had the word “people” in it. I said to myself, what could be more complicated or complex than designing systems that optimize and serve people? This intrigued me. Because I like to improve complex systems involving people, simulation became a natural tool to use because of its flexibility in modelling.

8. You are Professor in the Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Arkansas. What do you think are the current challenges in teaching engineering and what would you say to a student considering studying the discipline?

A key challenge is that many people are able to get instant gratification via our computer based, social networking, and internet connected world. This is a challenge because serious problem solving, from an engineering based design perspective takes a lot of careful, diligent, thoughtful, and creative thinking. This doesn’t happen instantly. Engineering is a wonderful career and can have a major impact. Even engineering on small things can impact millions of lives. But, engineering is a discipline. It takes time and effort to develop your discipline. Is it worth it? Absolutely, higher pay, more interesting problems, making an impact. You just have to have patience.

9. What is your current research focussing on? What are your main objectives and what do you hope to achieve through the results?

My current focus is on modelling supply chains. I use simulation modelling and operations research (optimization methods). As a company would you allow your supplier to order your materials for you? What is the total cost of supply chains that allow the manufacturer to order replenishments for their own customers? Which customers would a manufacturer gain a benefit from if they were permitted to manage their customer’s inventory and ordering processes? How would you share the savings in such arrangements? I use simulation and inventory theory to approach these questions and build models to permit manufacturers and customers to evaluate their benefits before entering into contractual arrangements.

10. Are there people that have been influential in your career?

The most influential person to my career was my academic advisor. He was a generalist and liked to solve real problems with whatever the most appropriate technique might be. I learned to appreciate the systems view point from him and it has served me well over the years.

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