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Modeling Human–System Interaction by Thomas B. Sheridan

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2 WHAT IS A MODEL?

In this section, we discuss the notion of modeling in very general terms. A definition is offered, a taxonomy of attributes of models is proposed by which to evaluate models, and some important distinctions in modeling are made.

What do a verbal treatise on how some aspect of the economy works, a miniature replica of an airplane, a mathematical equation characterizing driver steering behavior, and a girl posing before a camera or a painter have in common? We call each of them a model. There are other entities that we do not normally call models, such as a myth or a poem, but by a broad definition they too are models, though not the kind this book focuses on.

DEFINING “MODEL”

A model can be defined as a concise, denotative representation of the structure or function of some selected aspects of our world to one or more observers for the purposes of communicating a belief about some relationships, expressing a conjecture, making a prediction, or specifying a design of a thing or a set of events.

The term “model” as defined is quite general. Beyond the idea of representation are synonyms such as specification, rendering, map, or characterization of the relations between elements or variables of the defined set of objects or events. There are semantic overlaps with related terms such as abstraction, construction, explanation, portrayal, depiction, theory, idea, concept, paradigm, and pattern.

An important word in the given definition is selected

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