What are Models? Learning to Love Modeling and the Challenges it Brings

Friday, April 6, 2012, 12:00pm to 1:00pm PDT
Rick Donnelly, Parsons Brinckerhoff

The video begins at 3:30.

Abstract: We all use abstractions of reality to help understand the world around us, synthesize knowledge, and to predict the consequences of our actions. These range from ad hoc mental models to highly complex mathematical creations. In this discussion we'll examine the motivations for building formal models, with particular focus on the types of models that will be explored in this course. Several different modeling approaches will be compared, along with the strengths and limitations of each. Some important questions that builders and consumers of models should ask will be covered, as well as ideas for building more useful and informative models. A discussion on how to judge the validity of a model will round out the discussion.

Speaker Bio: Rick Donnelly has over 25 years of experience in the modeling and simulation of transportation systems, from the urban to national level. His current interests include agent-based modeling of freight and logistics, integrated land use-transportation models, and dynamic network modeling. Rick leads the travel modeling and simulation practice at Parsons Brinckerhoff, an international civil and transportation engineering consultancy. He is also a senior fellow at the University of Melbourne, where he earned his doctorate in engineering, and a visiting scholar at Los Alamos National Laboratory.