Model validation constitutes a very important step in system dynamics methodology. Yet, both published and informal evidence indicates that there has been little effort in system dynamics community explicitly devoted to model validity and validation. Validation is a prolonged and complicated process, involving both formal/quantitative tools and informal/qualitative ones. This paper focuses on the formal aspects of validation and presents a taxonomy of various aspects and steps of formal model validation. First, there is a very brief discussion of the philosophical issues involved in model validation, followed by a flowchart that describes the logical sequence in which various validation activities must be carried out. The crucial nature of structure validity in system dynamics (causal‐descriptive) models is emphasized. Then examples are given of specific validity tests used in each of the three major stages of model validation: Structural tests, structure‐oriented behavior tests and behavior pattern tests. Also discussed is if and to what extent statistical significance tests can be used in model validation. Among the three validation stages, the special importance of structure‐oriented behavior tests is emphasized. These are strong behavior tests that can provide information on potential structure flaws. Since structure‐oriented behavior tests combine the strength of structural orientation with the advantage of being quantifiable, they seem to be the most promising direction for research on model validation.
System Dynamics Review – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1996
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