Model: Mechanistic vs Empirical

  • Ajit K. Thakur
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 221)


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word Model (French modèle, Italian modello, Latin modulus) has many meanings. In our context, the word could mean, ‘something that accurately resembles something else’, ‘an object of imitation’, or ‘a perfect exemplar of some excellence’. The Sanskrit equivalent of Model is ‘Pratirupa’, i.e. a perfect copy or imitation. From sociology to science, models have been used for centuries. National heroes like George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi and many others are models that many parents wish their children to follow (obviously there are hundreds of counter examples as well!). In science, the ancient Hindu mathematicians used picture models to calculate astronomical parameters. And of course, we have the model of gravity in Isaac Newton’s Apple! There is no branch of science today that does not employ models to understand the system under study. Unfortunately, even with such a long tradition, the word model still brings out a lot of confusion and disagreement. This is particularly true when the statisticians are asked to make certain statements regarding observations made in various fields. The purpose of this discussion is not to settle any controversies, but to open the door for understanding such a broad concept.


Empirical Model Primary System Secondary System Oxford English Dictionary General System Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ajit K. Thakur
    • 1
  1. 1.Hazleton Washington, Inc.ViennaUSA

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