Back to the future. History, science and maths.

In Peter van Manen and Mark Stevens' Digital Twin blog this week, they discuss how history, science and maths can guide you towards likely outcomes.

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

Søren Kierkegaard

It is never too early or late to build a Digital Twin. You can even make one before the real thing exists! Spooky, huh. All thanks to history, science and maths.

History is experience of what has happened before. Similar things. Or other things that behave in a similar way. Science provides the rules of the game. How things should act when exposed to interventions and the environment around them. And maths gives a thread that pulls the fabric together. 

Nothing is certain about life, but there are often good odds to be had. So probability plays an important role. It helps to show how likely an outcome might be. The weather forecast on my phone says there is an 80 per cent chance of rain at 11 o’clock, so I take my umbrella. Then no rain later in the week, but at much longer odds. I won’t put the umbrella away just yet. This Digital Twin relies on climate, the interaction of air, land and sea, and then works out the probability of different weather across the country. This is maths. 

It was a Presbyterian minister in Kent, back in 1761, who came up with the approach that reduces uncertainty in many of today’s Digital Twins. Thomas Bayes showed that starting with a good guess, and then using observed behaviour to improve your forecasting, moves you towards a better idea of what might happen next. Bookmakers rely upon the same approach!

This is the magic of Digital Twins. You don’t need to know everything about everything to understand what is happening around you. History, science and maths invariably guides you towards the likely outcomes. The future is not certain, but thinking about what might happen next certainly helps take away some of the anxiety of life.

Read the previous blog in this series, 'Greeks bearing gifts. Giving context' here. The next episode 'Back to the future. History, science and maths' can be found here. You can catch up with all the available blogs in our Digital Twin series here.

Peter van Manen, Mark Stevens

(C) Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd, 2021

Related content