Not fashion models…rather simulations for understanding complex interactions and environments!

Today Maya revealed the wonderment of models, the many types of models, and how might they be used.

We discussed four main types of models:

  1. Conceptual (Phenomenological) Model – processes are drawn out – vs. Mechanistic
  2. Dynamic Model – time is a variable (changes in time) – vs. Static
  3. Spatial – changes within location – vs. Nonspatial
  4. Stochastic – uncertainty included – vs. Deterministic

It was intriguing to learn about the different ways these models might be applied and how models are being used with modern technology. For example, in syndromic surveillance – one is able to detect the symptoms before they start (e.g. an increase in Google Flu Searches before CDC has reports of cases) or following cell signals to understand population interactions. We also went through a few simulations ourself, which was fun, because in essence as a colleague pointed out…models are video games on randomness!

First we “played” Wandering Elephants, a stochastic spatial model developed to simulate how many times an elephant becomes thirsty and comes in contact with water.

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Then we also used a SIR model (Susceptible -> Infectious -> Removed) to model infections and susceptibility.

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Finally, we were able to tweak our own model which simulated oyster filtration of a parasite (e.g. laby) in the water column, essentially trying to find correct density of oysters to keep parasites low within the water column.

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