Purpose and Benefits of Hybrid Simulation: Contributing to the Convergence of its Definition

There is a growing trend in the number of M&S studies that report on the use of Hybrid Simulation. However, the meaning and the usage of the term varies considerably. Indeed, the hybrid simulation panel during last year’s conference (WSC2016) laid bare the strong views, from the panelists and audience alike, as to what constitutes a hybrid model and what is new? The ensuing debate set the scene for this year’s paper, in which we discuss the various perspectives on hybrid simulation by focusing on three aspects: its definition, its purpose and its benefits. We hope this paper will pave the way for further studies on this subject, with the objective of achieving a convergence of the definition of hybrid simulation.

The Hybrid Simulation track at the WSC has continued to grow over the last four years. This is representative of the growing interest in this topic, and indeed, reflects the volume of publications accessible through scholarly outlets. However, the meaning and the usage of this term varies considerably, as the hybrid methodology is not precisely defined (Balaban, Hester, and Diallo 2014). Most of the studies refer to a pair-wise (e.g., Heath et al. 2011) or full combination (e.g., Djanatliev and German 2013) of the three most commonly applied simulation techniques, namely the Discrete-Event Simulation (DES), System Dynamics (SD), and Agent-Based Simulation (ABS). Furthermore, new terms have been introduced which, arguably, have the same meaning, e.g., multi-method simulation, multi-paradigm modeling, cross-paradigm simulation, mixed-modeling and combined simulation. From the literature, we find numerous examples of “hybrid” models for specific use-cases. However, what makes those models “hybrid”? Is this only the application of two or more simulation paradigms? Why is hybridization necessary or useful in a certain case? What are the major steps to develop a hybrid model? Are there synergies to be derived through hybrid simulation or is it just a passing fad? These are only but a sub-set of the questions that make it difficult for new researchers to better appreciate this combined modelling approach; such questions affords even experienced researchers and groups only a restricted view on the matter. Conceptual papers and guidelines for hybrid simulation may help to define a structure, but there are only a few of them. According to Eldabi et al. (2016), most of the hybrid attempts are “ad hoc and pragmatic with no clear methodology.”

The paper presents the panelists’ perspectives on hybrid simulation by focusing on three aspects: the definition, the purpose and the benefits of hybrid simulation. We hope that this work will lead towards achieving a convergence of the definition of hybrid simulation and clarify its purpose and benefits.

Hybrid Simulation

Classification of Hybrid Simulation (Types A-D) with examples.

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