White, K. Preston, Jr. Department of Systems Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Advantages of models
- Role of model theory
- Mathematical models
- Systems as models of systems
- Modeling elements
- Modeling relationships
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The body of knowledge that concerns the fundamental nature, function, development, and use of formal models in science and technology. In its most general sense, a model is a proxy. A model is one entity used to represent some other entity for some well-defined purpose. Examples of models include: (1) An idea (mental model), such as the internalized model of a person's relationships with the environment, used to guide behavior. (2) A picture or drawing (iconic model), such as a map used to record geological data, or a solids model used to design a machine component. (3) A verbal or written description (linguistic model), such as the protocol for a biological experiment or the transcript of a medical operation, used to guide and improve procedures. (4) A physical object (scale model, analog model, or prototype), such as a model airfoil used in the wind-tunnel testing of a new aircraft design, or an electronic circuit used to simulate the neural activity of the brain. (5) A system of equations and logical expressions (mathematical model or computer simulation), such as the mass- and energy-balance equations that predict the end products of a chemical reaction, or a computer program that simulates the flight of a space vehicle. Models are developed and used to help hypothesize, define, explore, understand, simulate, predict, design, or communicate some aspect of the original entity for which the model is a substitute.
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