Book Review by Roger Smith
Handbook of Simulation:
Principles, Methodology, Advances, Applications, and Practice
Edited by Jerry Banks
The Handbook of Simulation is a gold mine of information on simulation techniques and applications. At 835 pages, two inches thick, and four pounds in weight there is plenty of room for detail on the twenty-five subjects covered. Edited by Jerry Banks at Georgia Institute of Technology, the list of chapter authors reads like a Who's Who of simulation researchers and practitioners. Banks has recruited Alan Pritsker to write the chapter on Principles of Simulation Modeling; Pierre L'Ecuyer on Random Number Generation; Osman Balci on Verification, Validation, and Testing; Richard Fujimoto on Parallel and Distributed Simulation; and a host of others.
The book primarily addresses the discrete event simulation community with lots of applications to manufacturing and communications. In that respect there are similarities in content to Simulation Modeling and Analysis by Averill Law and W. David Kelton (McGraw Hill, 1991). But the Handbook provides more detail in the areas where the books overlap. However, as a handbook, the material is not organized to serve as a textbook for college classes as is Law & Kelton. There is also a strong resemblance to the annual program of the Winter Simulation Conference. That conference provides a great deal of introductory material for new practitioners and the Handbook attempts to capture that material in several chapters. Thomas Schriber's "How Discrete-Event Simulation Software Works" and Jerry Bank's "Software for Simulation" are regular WSC presentations that are included in the Handbook. Other chapters are revisions of papers from past sessions at WSC. Simulation professionals who are not able to attend the Winter Simulation Conference and are given to self-study will find the Handbook an excellent substitute for those conference presentations. In many cases the handbook chapters provide more detail than the original conference papers.
The book is grouped into five major sections:
The Principles section contains two chapters - Principles of Simulation by Jerry Banks and Principles f Simulation Modeling by Alan Pritsker. Both provide an excellent introduction to the subject as well as valuable lessons from years of experience in the field. The definition of general principles in this field is something that has been lacking for years. These two chapters may encourage others to distill their experience into similar guidelines to help new practitioners and researchers.
The Methodology section includes chapters on Input Data Analysis, Random Number Generation, Random Variate Generation, Experimental Design, Output Data Analysis, System Comparison, Simulation Optimization, and Verification and Validation. Each of these authors provides an excellent introduction to their topic followed by an in-depth discussion of that area.
The Recent Advances section includes Object-Oriented Simulation, Parallel and Distributed Simulation, and On-line Simulation. Each an excellent introduction to the ideas in the field.
Application Areas includes chapters on manufacturing, the automobile industry, logistics, transportation, healthcare, the service industry, military applications, computer and communications systems, and scheduling. These areas parallel the application areas covered at WSC.
Practice of Simulation includes Guidelines for Success, Managing the Simulation Project, How Discrete-Event Simulation Software Works, and Software for Simulation. Each of these is an excellent view into the practical uses of simulation, including their inner workings.
Overall, the Handbook of Simulation provides excellent coverage of the field and is a valuable reference from which to draw. At $125.00 many will find it out of their financial reach. But, when compared to the price of attendance at a professional simulation conference, it is a great bargain. For professionals who own several linear feet of the dark blue Proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference, I would suggest placing the Handbook on the same shelf as a convenient summary of some of the best material from those proceedings. Those who do not participate in that conference can use this book as an abridged substitute.