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Plenary Lecture 3: Are simple models more general?

Monday 27th October 2014 - 16:30 to 17:30
INI Seminar Room 1
Co-author: Robert J Clegg (University of Birmingham)

Using some examples I will show that simpler models can be less general and that complex models can be less realistic. It is therefore important to vary the complexity of a model to test the structural robustness of models, not just checking off the parameter sensitivity box. For example, one ought to test which processes (e.g. growth, diffusion, migration, predation, …) need to be included in a model, but having to spend a lot of time implementing further processes that may turn out not to matter means that this is often not done, especially towards the end of a project. Open-source, individual-based modelling platforms can help here if many groups contribute by implementing further processes enabling the user to quickly try out a bunch of processes. In the end, models are more useful if they are less wrong.
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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons