Systems & complexitySystems thinking and modelling

The Process of Modeling: Wrapping It Up [Systems thinking & modelling series]

This is part 49 of a series of articles featuring the book Beyond Connecting the Dots, Modeling for Meaningful Results.

Completing a model is in some ways just the first step in a modeler’s work. Once the model is finished you should develop adequate tests to ensure it is operating as designed. Moreover, a model by itself is often of little use. You will need to develop extensive sets of documentation, manuals, and tutorials if you want the model to be used in practice by anyone other than yourself. Such efforts take time. Writing clear and useful documentation is a skill in itself and, if done right, may take as long as developing the model in the first place!

In general, it is important to remember the 80/20 rule which also applies to modeling. The first 80% of modeling work generally only takes 20% of the time, while the last 20% of the work can take four times as long. Getting the small details right in a model can take much longer than implementing the bulk of the model structure.

Exercise 6-8
You have been asked to model crime trends in a major city. Compose a general overview of the stages you might take to develop this model from start to finish.

Next edition: The Mathematics of Modeling: Differential Equations and System Dynamics.

Article sources: Beyond Connecting the Dots, Insight Maker. Reproduced by permission.

Header image source: Beyond Connecting the Dots.

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Scott Fortmann-Roe and Gene Bellinger

Scott Fortmann-Roe, creator of Insight Maker, and Gene Bellinger, creator of SystemsWiki, have written the innovative interactive book "Beyond Connecting the Dots" to demystify systems thinking and modelling.

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