Rhinos – a Modelling Theorist’s Perspective

What may constitute a Theory of Modelling? Let me enlighten my position a bit, with the help of last week’s Rhino posting:

What does Software Modelling – a Rhino’s Perspectice tell us? It is about Modelling, some of its underlying principles and how they relate to practical experiences. To me things like this make nice starting points for thinking and talking about principles like blind spots or redundancy in modelling. However, is this already enough to constitute a Theory of Modelling?

I would argue that the Rhino example is not (part of) a Modelling Theory, solely because it lacks rigour and relevance:

Rigour: When we inspect e.g. the blind spot principle a bit closer, it soon becomes quite ambiguous. We also would like to get rid of all example-specific details. Thus a more rigorous definition would be helpful, that imho should be done on the level of formal logic as far as possible.
Relevance: Modelling is about extracting the most important bits first. Thus a Modelling Theory seen as a model of modelling must prove its relevance. Quoting some author’s experiences might be a first step, although broadening this experience base is highly necessary in order to take relevance seriously.

To me a structure of rigorous and relevant principles is necessary and sufficient to constitute a Modelling Theory. All other things, like processual, behavioural, ontological or linguistic considerations, are optional.

Have fun

About modelpractice

Modeling Theory and Abstraction Awareness in strive for scientific rigour and relevance to information systems engineering.
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8 Responses to Rhinos – a Modelling Theorist’s Perspective

  1. TY says:

    Hi! =|,
    “Currently sorting out different approaches to Modelling Theory,” 😉

    Your Rhino example is interesting but I’d admit that may not well understanding some your thoughts :-p

    look forward to more on the topic…

    • Hi TY,

      Any unclear points in particular? Some of these approaches to Modelling Theory are quite ontology related. You said you wanna go deeper into ontology wrt modeling. How are you getting along? Might such approaches be of interest to you?


      • TY says:

        Yeah, I think, there are much necessary work in ontology related field.

        I just not sure I’m understanding all the meanings on your metaphor, and the cases such (1.), (2.), (1a.), (1b)… You know, reading and writing in English are some arduous for me, so I’ve often wondered if I’m reading right… :-p

        I seldom think of blind points or systematic deviation (or from such perspectives) when thinking about modeling…

  2. obviously you understood the blind spots problem, thats absolutely sufficient 🙂

    actually, one of the points I wanted to make was that many approaches to modelling (related) theory (especially the ontology related ones) are quite weak concerning rigour and relevance. At least for my taste.


  3. TY says:

    I don’t know if you’d agree that, the problem of “weak” might be reduced when the purpose and usage of modeling and models are stresseds?

    And I’m feelling I don’t very understand your meanings about “Relevance”, would you like to explain it more?

    • Indeed, describing “Relevance” is not easy. It certainly is not as easy as saying ‘the more often sth occures the more relevant it is’. For example, things are applied on different experience levels, or things are probably essentially good, but not yet widely known.

      For example the earlier posting on “2-Structures” refers to a micro processor example. Would you say based on this example that 2-Structures are a (more or less) relevant concept?

      Perhaps the first step towards describing relevance can be collecting cases of applications. There certainly purpose and usage* would be important criteria to order all these different cases in a meaningful way.

      For example, say, the “2-Structures” example would show its usage as part of the micro processor development process, and how it compares to possible alternatives for the same purpose. Would you now say that 2-Structures are a (more or less) relevant concept?


      * in other words: purpose and usage are good for relevance, but (as I see it) are of no use for rigour.

  4. TY says:

    hmm… the “2-Structures” seems quite rigor and relevant to some situations but it’s giving me a lot of headache (in its expressions, 😉 )

    perhaps it would be said that, in certain cases, we can (always/usually?) evaluate the relevance with the purpose and the usage of a theory.

    I also agree that the Rhino example/metaphor is not rigor and relevant theory for modeling but very instructive.

    • when I read things like the microprocessor example of 2-structures, I’m asking myself “would I invest in this ‘technology’?” I think in this case I would request much much more information (purpose, usage, …).

      To me examples like this seem like an existence proof in mathematics: you know that a certain thing exists, but you don’t know if it’s an legal alien or a native citizen.


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