Modelling is an activity aiming to make a domain of the real world easier to understand, define, quantify, visualise, and simulate. It requires identifying aspects of the domain and then developing and/or using different models for different purposes, e.g. conceptual models are used to understand, operational models to operationalise, mathematical models to quantify and graphical models to visualise the domain [Wikipedia].

Modelling is an essential part of any scientific activity, and many scientific disciplines have their own ideas about specific types of modelling (Cartwright 1983, Hacking 1983). For example, in the Information Systems (IS) discipline, the term modelling describes the elicitation and the representation of the general knowledge that any information system operating in a domain needs to know (Olive 2007, Rolland 2007).

In the policy modeling and simulation field the term modelling refers to structuring and programming a simulation model capable to produce artificial data about the structures and behaviours of a policy system (Gilbert and Doran, 1994), aiming at the prediction of policy impacts, development of new governance models and collaborative solving of complex policy problems.

Related term: Model


Cartwright, N. 1983. How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford University Press

Hacking, I. 1983. Representing and Intervening. Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science. Cambridge University Press

Olive, A. 2007. Conceptual Modeling of Information Systems, Springer Verlag Berlin.

Rolland, C. 2007. Capturing system intentionality with maps. Conceptual modelling in Information Systems engineering. p.141-158.

Gilbert, N. and J. Doran (eds.), 1994: Simulating Societies. The computer simulation of social phenomena. London: Routledge.

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