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Analytic Element Ground Water Modeling as a Research Program (1980 to 2006)

Kraemer, Stephen R.
Ground water 2007 v.45 no.4 pp. 402-408
engineers, groundwater, groundwater flow, hydrologic models, mechanics, philosophy, problem solving, research programs, researchers, scientists
Scientists and engineers who use the analytic element method (AEM) for solving problems of regional ground water flow may be considered a community, and this community can be studied from the perspective of history and philosophy of science. Applying the methods of the Hungarian philosopher of science Imre Lakatos (1922 to 1974), the AEM "research program" is distinguished by its hard core (theoretical basis), protective belt (auxiliary assumptions), and heuristic (problem solving machinery). AEM has emerged relatively recently in the scientific literature and has a relatively modest number of developers and practitioners compared to the more established finite-element and finite-difference methods. Nonetheless, there is evidence to support the assertion that the AEM research program remains in a progressive phase. The evidence includes an expanding publication record, a growing research strand following Professor Otto Strack's book Groundwater Mechanics (1989), the continued placement of AEM researchers in academia, and the further development of innovative analytical solutions and computational solvers/models.