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Anybody familiar with engineering knows the importance of mathematical modeling and simulation. In fact, engineering research cannot exist without simulation modeling, whether the question be the analysis of bridge health, or the robustness of a software system against variations in input. Gauging the importance of the subject, engineering curricula in Nepali universities have included Simulation and Modeling as a core course for computer engineering from the very beginning.
The issue I am addressing here is regarding the syllabus of Simulation and Modeling, which is almost the same in all of the Nepali universities. My first acquaintance with the subject was in 2000, when I was an engineering student. We were using Geoffrey Gordon's book "System Simulation" as the textbook. By that time, the book was already 22 years old. We are still using the same book as the textbook, which has not been updated since 1978. Unfortunately, the course syllabus is totally based on Gordon's book.
What's wrong with using an old textbook? One may argue that age does not matter for mathematical contents. Yes, of course, mathematics does not change over time. But the requirements of academia and the industry changes. Consequently, some of the technical definitions may also change. I can provide an example. Erwin Kresyzig, in the second edition of "Advanced Engineering Mathematics" (my father's book!), defines the rank of a matrix as "the largest submatrix with non-vanishing determinant". In the ninth edition of the same book, Kreyszig defines the rank as "the largest number of linearly independent column vectors". Both definitions are mathematically equivalent, but the emphasis has changed. In the modern days, linear algebra has emerged as one of the most useful branches of mathematics. This is why Kreyszig re-defined matrix rank in the flavor of linear algebra.
Let's re-focus on Gordon's book on simulation. Without any doubt, Gordon was one of the pioneers in the subject of simulation. His textbook, however, is not ‘mathematical enough' for engineering students. The worst part of the textbook is the software he has described, these software are almost non-existent today. The book mentions CSMP-III, GPSS, and SIMSCRIPT. The latest reference about CSMP-III that you can find in the web is from 1995, there are no newer references. GPSS is still available for students for free. You can nonetheless note that the interface of the software is similar to the software of the 90s that ran on Windows 95-98. SIMSCRIPT is not available, even if you want to pay, although we can find somewhere written that it is proprietary software. The manual for SIMSCRIPT that you can find was written in 1978.
Embarrassingly, in the board examinations, our universities still ask questions about these software. Students are asked to write programs in CSMP-III whose compiler/interpreter is non-existent. Students are asked about the architecture of SIMSCRIPT which is also unavailable. When will the universities realize that these software are dead? When will the concerned authorities admit that in the era of open source movement, students have far better alternatives like Python, R and Java to learn simulation?
The theoretical content of the textbook also does not comply with the contemporary research trends. The subject of simulation has moved much beyond traditional engineering disciplines like mechanics and electronics, and entered the realm of social and biological sciences. Instead of the ghostly software like CSMP-III, students could be introduced to modern concepts, for example agent based simulation. I hope my voice would reach the concerned university officials some day (and I hope, that would be before my retirement!).