If all philosophy starts with wondering, then Calculated Surprises starts with wondering about how computers are changing the face and inner workings of science. In this book, Lenhard concentrates on the ways in which computers and simulation are transforming the established conception of mathematical modeling. His core thesis is that simulation modeling constitutes a new mode of mathematical modeling that rearranges and inverts key features of the established conception. Although most of these new key features–such as experimentation, exploration, or epistemic opacity–have their precursors, the new ways in which they are being combined is generating a distinctive style of scientific reasoning. Lenhard also documents how simulation is affecting fundamental concepts of solution, understanding, and validation. He feeds these transformations back into philosophy of science, thereby opening up new perspectives on longstanding oppositions.
By combining historical investigations with practical aspects, Calculated Surprises is accessible for a broad audience of readers. Numerous case studies covering a wide range of simulation techniques are balanced with broad reflections on science and technology.
Initially, what computers are good at is calculating with a speed and accuracy far beyond human capabilities. Lenhard goes further and investigates the emerging characteristics of computer-based modeling, showing how this simple observation is creating a number of surprising challenges for the methodology and epistemology of science. These calculated surprises will attract both philosophers and scientific practitioners who are interested in reflecting on recent developments in science and technology.