Monday workshop
Monday, February 10, 2014 (All day)

337 Cohen Hall

Ann Johnson, Univ. of South Carolina

"Code is Fluid: Mapping the Circulation of Computational Fluid Dynamics Among Knowledge Communities" 


Computer code is easily shared, and disparate communities often use the same software packages to model a wide variety of phenomena.  This lecture focuses on the history and sociology of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and tracks the method's circulation from physics to engineering to social science communities.  Studying CFD's movement facilitates a consideration of what sorts of epistemic assumptions attach to software as it moves to new users, and how users develop new epistemic commitments about programs.  CFD is particularly interesting because it was developed at Los Alamos for problems in plasma physics and subsequently developed into commercial software available to a wide array of problem-oriented communities who use it to model all sorts of dynamic behavior.  The talk will reveal the networks users form in taking up CFD and the paths CFD algorithms have taken to enter new communities.  The talk is a case study from a larger study on the changing epistemology of prediction making in science that accompanies the widespread use of desktop computers and simulations.