Debating complexity in modeling

Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
By:  and 



Complexity in modeling would seem to be an issue of universal importance throughout the geosciences, perhaps throughout all science, if the debate last year among groundwater modelers is any indication. During the discussion the following questions and observations made up the heart of the debate.

As scientists trying to understand the natural world, how should our effort be apportioned? We know that the natural world is characterized by complex and interrelated processes. Yet do we need to explicitly incorporate these intricacies to perform the tasks we are charged with? In this era of expanding computer power and development of sophisticated preprocessors and postprocessors, are bigger machines making better models? Put another way, do we understand the natural world better now with all these advancements in our simulation ability? Today the public's patience for long-term projects producing indeterminate results is wearing thin. This increases pressure on the investigator to use the appropriate technology efficiently. On the other hand, bringing scientific results into the legal arena opens up a new dimension to the issue: to the layperson, a tool that includes more of the complexity known to exist in the real world is expected to provide the more scientifically valid answer.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Debating complexity in modeling
Series title Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
DOI 10.1029/99EO00025
Volume 80
Issue 3
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description 1 p.
First page 29
Last page 29
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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