In the most general sense, a model is anything used in any way to represent anything else. Some models are physical objects, for instance, a toy model which may be assembled, and may even be made to work like the object it represents. However a conceptual model, may only be drawn on paper, described in words, or imagined in the mind. They are used to help us know and understand the subject matter they represent.

Type and scope of conceptual models

Conceptual models range in type from the more concrete, such as the mental image of a familiar physical object, to the formal generality and abstractness of mathematical models which do not appear to the mind as an image. Conceptual models also range in terms of the scope of the subject matter that they are taken to represent. A model may, for instance, represent a single thing (e.g. the Statue of Liberty), whole classes of things (e.g. the electron), and even very vast domains of subject matter such as the physical universe. The variety and scope of conceptual models is due to the variety of purposes had by the people using them.

Metaphysical models

A metaphysical model is a type of conceptual model which is distinguished from other conceptual models by its proposed scope. A metaphysical model intends to represent reality in the broadest possible way. This is to say that it explains the answers to fundamental questions such as whether or not matter and mind are one or two substances; or whether or not humans have free will.

Epistemological models

Ethical models

Logical models

In logic, a model is a type of interpretation under which a particular statement is true. Logical models can be broadly divided into ones which only attempt to represent concepts, such as mathematical models; and ones which attempt to represent physical objects, and factual relationships, among which are scientific models.

Mathematical models

Main article: Mathematical model

Mathematical models can take many forms, including but not limited to dynamical systems, statistical models, differential equations, or game theoretic models. These and other types of models can overlap, with a given model involving a variety of abstract structures.

Scientific models

Main article: Scientific model

A scientific model is a simplified abstract view of the complex reality. A scientific model represents empirical objects, phenomena, and physical processes in a logical way. Attempts to formalize the principles of the empirical sciences, use an interpretation to model reality, in the same way logicians axiomatize the principles of logic. The aim of these attempts is to construct a formal system for which reality is the only interpretation. The world is an interpretation (or model) of these sciences, only insofar as these sciences are true.[1]

Social and political models

Economic models

Main article: Economic model

In economics, a model is a theoretical construct that represents economic processes by a set of variables and a set of logical and/or quantitative relationships between them. The economic model is a simplified framework designed to illustrate complex processes, often but not always using mathematical techniques. Frequently, economic models use structural parameters. Structural parameters are underlying parameters in a model or class of models.[1] A model may have various parameters and those parameters may change to create various properties.


See also