How to Accelerate Innovation with Open Source Simulation

Using Insight Maker to promote rapid learning

Insight Maker: Accelerating innovation and bigger thinking using open source simulation

Originally Presented: May 11, 2017 (OSCON, Austin, TX)

Simulation models are great tools for performing experiments and for employing systems-thinking principles to visualize and gain a deeper insight of how one area of a system impacts its other parts. Simulation and modeling tools are especially effective for understanding the root causes of a problem and for aligning stakeholders toward a consensus for action.

Insight Maker, an accessible free and open source simulation and modeling tool, offers a web-based multiuser environment for developing, analyzing, and sharing system insights and provides a graphical interface and includes systems dynamics modeling, agent-based modeling, and advanced features such as model optimization and scripting via its JavaScript API. Designed to be accessible to a broad audience of users, Insight Maker has been in development for many years and has been adopted by well over 20,000 registered users.

Kishau Rogers offers an in-depth review of how open source interactive simulation tools are being used to promote rapid learning, understand the structure and dynamics of complex systems, and solve problems. Using Insight Maker, Kishau highlights real-world simulation projects and their use of qualitative and quantitative data combined with systems thinking principles to model complex systems in industries such as health, technology, and business—scaling complex business operations, developing adaptive and intelligent applications, and evaluating the broader impact of service expansion.

Topics include:

  • Functional specifications: Understand the requirements for getting started
  • Types of models: Systems dynamics modeling versus agent-based modeling
  • Model building: The impact of actors, events, inputs, and outputs
  • Models versus truth: Verification and validation
  • Designing, conducting, and analyzing experiments
  • Reviewing, documenting, and sharing results
  • Customizing and manipulating models with JavaScript
  • Simulation case studies in the areas of healthcare, technology, interactive gaming, and business help desk operations


OSCON Presentation (May 2011)
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Kishau Rogers is the editor and founder of The bigThinking Project. The bigThinking Project is a resource center and collaborative innovation project which promotes the principles of systems thinking. Our mission is to empower the next generation of innovators to think bigger, to think better and to create solutions which make significant impact in the areas that matter. Kishau Rogers is an award-winning entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the computer science industry. She is a serial entrepreneur having founded and co-founded companies such as Websmith Group, TimeStudy, PeerLoc Inc., and Websmith Studio.

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