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In more conventional modeling through explicitly given mathematical functions, parameters are often determined by curve fitting [ citation needed ]. A crucial part of the modeling process is the evaluation of whether or not a given mathematical model describes a system accurately. This question can be difficult to answer as it involves several different types of evaluation. Usually the easiest part of model evaluation is checking whether a model fits experimental measurements or other empirical data. In models with parameters, a common approach to test this fit is to split the data into two disjoint subsets: training data and verification data.

The training data are used to estimate the model parameters. An accurate model will closely match the verification data even though these data were not used to set the model's parameters. This practice is referred to as cross-validation in statistics. Defining a metric to measure distances between observed and predicted data is a useful tool of assessing model fit. In statistics, decision theory, and some economic models , a loss function plays a similar role.

While it is rather straightforward to test the appropriateness of parameters, it can be more difficult to test the validity of the general mathematical form of a model. In general, more mathematical tools have been developed to test the fit of statistical models than models involving differential equations. Tools from non-parametric statistics can sometimes be used to evaluate how well the data fit a known distribution or to come up with a general model that makes only minimal assumptions about the model's mathematical form.

Purpose and Contents

Assessing the scope of a model, that is, determining what situations the model is applicable to, can be less straightforward. If the model was constructed based on a set of data, one must determine for which systems or situations the known data is a "typical" set of data. The question of whether the model describes well the properties of the system between data points is called interpolation , and the same question for events or data points outside the observed data is called extrapolation.

As an example of the typical limitations of the scope of a model, in evaluating Newtonian classical mechanics , we can note that Newton made his measurements without advanced equipment, so he could not measure properties of particles travelling at speeds close to the speed of light. Likewise, he did not measure the movements of molecules and other small particles, but macro particles only. It is then not surprising that his model does not extrapolate well into these domains, even though his model is quite sufficient for ordinary life physics.

Types of Models - SEBoK

Many types of modeling implicitly involve claims about causality. This is usually but not always true of models involving differential equations. As the purpose of modeling is to increase our understanding of the world, the validity of a model rests not only on its fit to empirical observations, but also on its ability to extrapolate to situations or data beyond those originally described in the model. One can think of this as the differentiation between qualitative and quantitative predictions. One can also argue that a model is worthless unless it provides some insight which goes beyond what is already known from direct investigation of the phenomenon being studied.

An example of such criticism is the argument that the mathematical models of optimal foraging theory do not offer insight that goes beyond the common-sense conclusions of evolution and other basic principles of ecology. The state S 1 represents that there has been an even number of 0s in the input so far, while S 2 signifies an odd number.

A 1 in the input does not change the state of the automaton. When the input ends, the state will show whether the input contained an even number of 0s or not. If the input did contain an even number of 0s, M will finish in state S 1 , an accepting state, so the input string will be accepted.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Description of a system using mathematical concepts and language. Not to be confused with the same term used in model theory , a branch of mathematical logic.. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

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Behavioural Brain Research. Categories : Applied mathematics Collective intelligence Conceptual models Knowledge representation Mathematical modeling Mathematical terminology Mathematical and quantitative methods economics. The focus of the paper is to present BMA as a technique to compute scenarios.

In contrast, the modelling of parts of the world that obey laws of nature is often straightforward in mathematical terms. A model of a dropped ball is a precise mathematical relation for example. The results computed with such a model depict empirically well-confirmed system states for known parameters e.

It is insensible to repeat a ball throw over and over to gather statistical data when we know a mathematical relation describing the relations precisely, a mathematical function.

Development Planning

But when it comes to scenarios depicting also human decision s , for example, scenarios in social sciences, then we lack a precise mathematical formulation as humans can decide differently at any time. GDP, trade balance, demand can only be approximated. This is what BMA, as a statistical method, does. BMA approximates with a view on the statistically evident behaviour in the past.

A basic principle depicts scenario design in terms of phenomena and energy model boundaries. The Appendix is an exemplary communication of scenario assumptions. The hope is that this paper helps to acknowledge that scenarios depicting a future world should also respect the world of the past and the present. Here, BMA would be one way to do so.

Economic, social, environmental, and governmental policies influence the design and desired changes of an energy system. An adequate design and adaptation of the energy system to the changing needs of a society are in the interest of all stakeholders. The priorities may, however, vary according to stakeholder objectives, planning, and societal duties. Changes to an energy system cannot be experimentally tested, as compared to the design of a physical experiment.

In addition, international agreements, such as the security of supply agreements or environmental protection agreements, demand for strategies that are respectful in regard to both the accepted duties and their practicability. Investigating potential consequences of policy measures for different stakeholders of an energy system in terms of monetary, technical, environmental, and social burdens has become a major concern of quantitative energy modelling for policy advice.

Assisting the impact evaluation for policy advice is a central role of quantitative energy modelling [ 11 , 12 ]. To account for different possibilities, scenarios are developed representing a set of numerical assumptions interpreted in a narrative way, the so-called storyline. Van Notten discusses 11 definitions and application examples for scenarios [ 13 ].

Lindgren debates paradoxical situations and practical indications of the scenario technique [ 14 ]. Van Notten and also Lindgren accord to the scenario technique qualities as intuitiveness, creativity, associational thinking, causal relation assumptions, and other possibly non-standardised characteristics. The main objective of scenarios is to create a set of assumptions representing a state of the world of interest, used for the evaluation of future developments [ 15 ].

According to them, scenario technique reflects plausible futures based on the reasoning of the scenario designer [ 16 ].


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In quantitative modelling, possible future states of the energy system are limited to some defined input scenarios , also called storylines or key assumptions, what implies a subjective and decisive pre-selection of futures scrutinised with an energy model. This is a delicate process that should involve expert knowledge, and rigorous attention must be paid to plausibility. Individually stipulated assumptions may, in concert with other individually plausible assumptions, amount to implausibility due to reciprocal assumption impact.

An energy model, designed to represent an existing energy system, is typically applied to investigate potential consequences for the target system, given things were as assumed in a scenario. However, due to the interrelated nature of the target system, experimental confirmation of scenario assumptions is limited, if not impossible.

Therefore, the assumptions figuring in a scenario cannot solely be derived from intuitive scenario methodologies, if the energy model results should represent a provable possible or even probable energy system state. I refer to energy models as quantitative descriptions of an existing energy system, e. The literature on existing energy models is given for example in [ 20 , 21 , 22 ], or [ 12 ], where reviews and evaluations are published.

The method proposed for scenario construction addresses the problem of scenario representation in energy models and evaluates the scenario assumptions for a given energy model in terms of their empirical adequacy. The empirical adequacy of an assumption is its propensity to represent possible states of the world as confirmed by statistical evidence. Footnote 2 In other words, I take consistent scenario construction to mean that numerical assumptions are consistent with statistically evident stable relations in the target system.

Energy model results are typically presented as energy scenario studies, for example [ 23 ]. A consistent scenario construction as an accompanying document is an uncertainty assessment, as presented in [ 24 ], as well as the consequent predictive density computations, the scenarios. The scenarios come thus automatically with an uncertainty estimation for the specific energy model and the specific scenarios computed with it.


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Consistent scenario construction can assess scenarios of a specific energy model in terms deemed relevant by Goodwin [ 25 ] p. The general characteristic of scenario construction that is specific to the energy modelling context is a tight connection of the scenario to the actual world. In other words, scenarios modelling potential energy futures are partially used as a replacement of experiments which cannot be carried out and serve as concrete guidance in decision support.

This places requirements on the employed scenario technique in terms of empirical adequacy, as the purpose of energy scenario studies is an evaluation of actual, possible, and plausible future options, which decision-makers may have to consider.


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For clarity, I would like to start with a clarification of the terminology used. I take a phenomenon to be either a physically observable or an invisible socially emerged constellation of parts of reality that are naturally interrelated. An observation record , also called empirical evidence , is in this case the statistical data.

How Models are Used in Practice (Fundamentals of Quantitative Modeling)

In fact, a phenomenon may exhibit different empirical evidence of itself. Statistical data have the advantage above personal observations that they are collected systematically, according to a method, and data observed the same aspects of a phenomenon over time. This methodological transparency of statistical data serves as common ground for different persons to speak about reality.