What Is Mathematical Modeling?

Mathematical modeling is an act of translation from the infinitely complex language of nature into the simpler people-made language of mathematics. When scientists attempt to answer questions about what took place in the distant past, or to predict what might happen in the not too distant future, they are faced with the need to simplify the real-world system they are investigating. They need to describe the system in a language for which they know the syntax, that is, in the language of mathematics. There are many situations where the simplification succeeds preserving the important features of the real-world system, and the mathematics involved in manipulating the resulting models can be successfully accomplished. It is one of the miracles of nature that we are able to use mathematics, a product of human imagination alone, to improve our understanding of the mysterious processes of nature.

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