Mathematical Simulations vs. the PeopleSim Conversation Engine

Basic mathematical equations, like F = MA or Force equals mass times acceleration, have long been used to describe physical events.  With the development of computers, complex equations could be integrated into models  to understand and predict the effects of air flow of an airplane’s wing, to estimate the effect of a change in policy on the economy, or to predict the weather. 

Like equations-based simulations, training simulations, such as fire drills, war games and role-plays also have a long history.  Participants actually took part in the exercises being simulated, as opposed to simply analyzing the output from a model and drawing conclusions

As computers became more powerful, it was only natural that these machines would be used to integrate the complexity of mathematical models with the interactivity of training.   Perhaps the best known example is the flight simulator, used for decades to train pilots.

While models of human behavior sometimes are described using simple mathematical models, these models are rarely used for training.  Mathematical models that fully represent human behavior do not exist. 

Starting in the late 1980s, attempts were made to train communication skills using a computer, but were not successful.  The approaches relied on very simple logic. 

A significant advancement was made in 1997, when I combined a complex stochastic model, a fundamental new structure, and human scripting, to develop the PeopleSim technology and incorporated it in a simulation to train FBI agents to better interview suspects.  Since that time the resulting PeopleSim technology has evolved and has been used to develop over 25 other simulations. 

SIMmersion is as hard at work as ever at exploring the potential of PeopleSim to create realistic training conversations that build lasting skills.  Visit to see what’s coming next for us.

–Dale Olsen, PhD

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