Week 1: Down the NOVA Rabbit Hole

““If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
― Albert Einstein

During my first meeting with Professor Darling before the start of winter term, we discussed the overall goals of the winter term project. It was decided that I would spend January 2018 in Oberlin assisting Prof. Darling to construct a dynamic systems model of Pain.

After a brief literature review on the concept of dynamic systems, I believed that I understood the direction the project would take. I would meet with Prof. Darling to discuss how to create a dynamic model and then I would attempt to create a model of pain that could be used in later research. As it turned out, I did not initially realize the scope of what I would spend my January doing.

I began the project before I even arrived on campus, familiarizing myself with the NOVA 2 software designed by Rich Salter, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Oberlin College. I studied the theory of dynamic systems in terms of the interface design, the components that go into a model, and the various ways in which time is treated within the interface.

numerus
The Numerus Model Builder Interface

After a few initial meetings with Prof Darling to discuss an outline of the project, I learned that I would be utilizing Numerus, the successor to the NOVA 2 software. The software has yet to be released and I was to be one of the first users on the new platform, which came with an entirely new set of challenges in adapting my studies of NOVA 2 to Numerus and debugging the program, still in its development. I went on to catalog the use of Numerus as I built the model, noting feature differences and potential bugs along the way.

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