Digital Twins

Research and industry leverage digital twins to monitor and control (cyber-physical) systems in various domains, including automotive, avionics, biology, construction, manufacturing, medicine, and many more. They promise a tremendous potential to reduce cost and time and improve our understanding of the represented systems. The various digital twins serve different purposes, including analysis, control, and behavior prediction, and they are used at different times relative to the represented system, e.g., before it exists to explore its design space or during its runtime to optimize its behavior. Despite a plethora of definitions, there is little consensus about what a digital twin is.

This also is reflected in many of the available definitions being

  • ambiguous, by deferring to another undefined term, such as a “virtual representation”, a “computable virtual abstraction” , or a “a virtual projection of the industrial facility into the cloud”
  • narrow, by focusing on specific use cases, domains, or technologies, such as a “digital model of the real network environment” or a “virtual representation based on AR technology”
  • utopian, due to all-encompassing aspirations, such as an “integrated virtual model of a real-world system containing all of its physical information”, a “complete digital representation”.

For us, a digital twin is a software system that leverages models and data from and about an original (cyber-physical) system, to represent, predict, and prescribe its behavior for a specific purpose.

This entails that a digital twin

  • is neither bound to specific technology or application domain
  • does not need to be complete (which is impossible most of the time)
  • does not need to be a model but may use models
  • may change the behavior of the original system

From this, interesting questions arise. Some of which I have discussed in my talk Ceci n’est pas un jumeau numérique in the Engineering Digital Twins Community.

Selected publications below highlight how we leverage this notion of digital twins to facilitate their engineering and operations

Selected Publications

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Digital Twins in Various Domains

We have conducted the largest systematic mapping study on digital twins across domains. In this study, we have, ultimately, investigated a corpus of over 300 publications to find out how digital twins are engineered, operated, and what the major challenges are.

You can find the domains in which digital twins are used and the related publications below. If there are mistakes in the author names, please inform the publisher of your choice to provide proper publication data export.


  1. Construction
  2. Education
  3. Energy
  4. Health
  5. ICT
  6. Manufacturing
  7. Transport and Storage








Transport and Storage

Find other research topics from my research website.