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Publication Title

The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation








The American scientist Carl Sagan once said: “You have to know the past to understand the present.” We argue that having a meaningful dialogue on the future of simulation requires a baseline understanding of previous discussions on its future. For this paper, we conduct a review of the discrete event simulation (DES) literature that focuses on its future to understand better the path that DES has been following, both in terms of who is using simulation and what directions they think DES should take. Our review involves a qualitative literature review of DES and a quantitative bibliometric analysis of the Modeling and Simulation (M&S) literature. The results from the bibliometric study imply that demographics of the M&S community are rapidly changing, both in terms of the nations that use M&S and the academic disciplines from which new simulationists hail. This change in demographics has the potential to help aid the community face some of its future challenges. Our qualitative literature review indicates that DES still faces some significant challenges: these include integrating human behavior; using simulation for exploration, not replication; determining return on investment; and communication issues across a splitting community.


© The Author(s) 2021.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (


0000-0002-8012-2272 (Collins), 0000-0003-3892-7701 (Jordan)

Original Publication Citation

Collins, A. J., Sabz Ali Pour, F., & Jordan, C. A. (2023). Past challenges and the future of discrete event simulation. The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation, 20(3), 351-369.