Just read one of the email newsletters that comes from the ACM, and in it a scientific panel was lamenting the sorry state of simulation science in the USA. To paraphrase, the field is flat, there is no new algorithm development, and the competition can buy similar performance machinery so we’re loosing our edge.
As a computer scientist who works in simulation, this comes as no surprise. In the application domains, the “scientists” are wedded to standard programs and cannot conceive that someone other than “the master” could write useful code or develop algorithms. I’ve personally experienced a major simulation group publishing their version of an algorithm as the “first example”, when others have published close or identical versions before them. Similarly the “high priests” of computer science have decided that programming isn’t a necessary skill – which is fine until you need to have an instantiation of a new algorithm that actually works. (programming is not computer science in precisely the same way that spelling and grammar are not parts of English literature). Matlab and similar programs are similar in their effect – people learn incantations that work, but do not understand the mathematics behind them. In fact, students who depend on these programs are singularly useless because they haven’t put in the work to understand what they are doing.
Until there is real support for research in simulation algorithms, and not just running code, this sorry state of affairs won’t change.