Thursday, July 23, 2009

User Review: Berkeley Madonna for Simulations

Ever have to solve differential equations? Berkeley Madonna software allows you to do dynamic simulations of ordinary differential equations plus much more. As a chemical engineer I sometimes have to solve problems involving heat transfer or reaction kinetics that involve derivatives or rate problems. These dynamic or time based problems can be simulated with ease using Berkeley Madonna.

The software was developed by Robert Macey and George Oster of the University of California at Berkeley. Here are some uses for this powerful mathematics based software platform.

  1. Curve Fitting - You can import your own data and fit curves to the data.
  2. Monte Carlo Simulation - The program has capability of batch runs which will allow Monte Carlo Simulation for problems with uncertainty. There are several distributions such as normal, poisson, uniform and binomial. I used this feature to simulate a demand problem under uncertainty for a business.
  3. Algebraic Roots - The software easily identifies algebraic roots to complex equations.
  4. Dynamic Simulation - Good examples are SIR virus problems, birth and death population problems, chemical reaction kinetics, physics problems involving springs, bungees, and velocity(t), acceleration(t) type problems. Any problem involving a rate based flow over time is a good use of this program.
  5. Discrete Event simulations - MADONNA also does simulations of discrete events. With a function of CONVEYORS, OVENS and QUEUES process models can be built and simulated.
The program comes packed with examples and tutorials to help you learn how to master the operation. One really good feature of the program is a flowchart editor that allows you to create visual depictions of your simulation.

There are already at least several textbooks that use MADONNA as a simulation language in examples and provide tutorials on how to use the program.

Chemical Engineering Dynamics

Dynamic Modeling for Business Management
Introduction to Computational Science

The program is available for both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. It will run on both an Intel and Power PC MAC. A demo version is available that limits functionality and prints output with a very distracting watermark and also prevents saving models. The demo allows you an opportunity to evaluate for purchase. Check the website at http://www.berkeleymadonna.com for current pricing.
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