Computer Simulation Using Excel without Programming

by Evon M. O. Abu-Taieh


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Defining Simulation in its broadest aspect as embodying a certain model to represent the behavior of a system, whether that may be an economic or an engineering one, with which conducting experiments is attainable. Such a technique enables the management, when studying models currently used, to take appropriate measures and make fitting decisions that would further complement today's growth sustainability efforts, apart from cost decrease, as well as service delivery assurance. As such, the Computer Simulation technique contributed in cost decline; depicting the "cause & effect", pinpointing task-oriented needs or service delivery assurance, exploring possible alternatives, identifying problems, as well as, proposing streamlined measurable deliverable solutions, providing the platform for change strategy introduction, introducing potential prudent investment opportunities, and finally providing safety net when conducting training courses. Yet, Simulation Development process is hindered due to many reasons. Like a rose, Computer Simulation technique, does not exist without thorns; of which the length, as well as, the communication during the development life cycle. While Computer Simulation technique proves to be highly specialized, nevertheless, it is task-oriented. Moreover, it reflects real life problems; hence, it addresses numerous scenarios with handful of variables. Not only is it costly, as well as, liable for human judgment, but also, the results are complicated and can be misinterpreted.

Within this context, the researcher attempts to employ a method, using spreadsheets as simulation environment while simplifying the program code, and thus surmounting the aforementioned problems. The idea of this method is defined as follows; one procedure is defined for beginning any activity, one procedure is defined for ending any activity, and one procedure is defined for any activity process. This is attainable by using each entity as a parameter being passed from one procedure to another utilizing the Object Oriented programming language Visual Basic. Consequently, a computer simulation system, E3P-Sim, is realized.

E3P-Sim is programmed based on: Three-Phase Discrete event, Activity Cycle Diagram (ACD), Object Oriented Language, and Microsoft Excel. E3P-Sim is a general-purpose package, and not a task-oriented package. E3P-Sim accepts the model, built using interactive ACD on Excel spreadsheet. As such, E3P-Sim is built using Three-Phase, to bypass the deadlock problems, Object Oriented Language during simulation package programming, in order to simplify the code and relieve the modeler from such chore. Intentionally, this package uses Microsoft Excel as a reporting tool, since Excel is a popular reporting and analysis tool.

About the Author

EVON M. O. ABU-TAIEH is a Ph.D. holder and assistant professor in the Arab Academy for Banking and Financial Sciences (AABFS). She is also Assistant Dean in the Information Systems College and Director of the London School of Economics program in the AABFS. She earned her PhD from AABFS in 2005 in simulation. She received her masters in computer science from Pacific Lutheran University, and her B.Sc. from St. Martinís College. She has published many research papers on a range of topics: GIS, RSA, Neural Networks, simulation, data mining in airline reservations. Her current research interests are software engineering, databases, simulation and modeling, AI, and ciphering algorithms.