Computing and Prediction

Equipment at Coast and Geodetic Survey geophysical observatory
Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Acknowledging the increasing importance of computing for the natural sciences in general and for prediction in particular, PYTHIA aims at integrating the history and philosophy of computing into the history and philosophy of the physical sciences.

As the historian and philosopher of science Johannes Lenhard has put it, computer simulations have promoted a ‘‘culture of prediction’’. In this culture, the extraction of predictions from a model counts as a central virtue, although computer simulations typically fail to model the processes that underlie the modeled phenomena. Does this exclusive emphasis on prediction undermine the validity of scientific results that are based on models and simulations? When we ask this question we must keep in mind that in contemporary science the use of models, especially mathematical and computational models, is absolutely necessary for filling the gap between highly abstract theories and their implementation in the “real” world.

In the context of PYTHIA, a critical review of the literature on the history and philosophy of computing will be feeding into research regarding the computation-prediction relationship in Seismology, Quantum Chemistry, High Energy Physics, Environmental Science, and Classical Physics.