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The process of imitating a real phenomenon with a set of mathematical formulas. Advanced computer programs can simulate weather conditions, chemical reactions, atomic reactions, even biological processes. In theory, any phenomena that can be reduced to mathematical data and equations can be simulated on a computer. In practice, however, simulation is extremely difficult because most natural phenomena are subject to an almost infinite number of influences. One of the tricks to developing useful simulations, therefore, is to determine which are the most important factors.

In addition to imitating processes to see how they behave under different conditions, simulations are also used to test new theories. After creating a theory of causal relationships, the theorist can codify the relationships in the form of a computer program. If the program then behaves in the same way as the real process, there is a good chance that the proposed relationships are correct.

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