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A model is an informative representation of an object, person or system. The term originally denoted the plans of a building in late 16th-century English, and derived via French and Italian ultimately from Latin modulus, a measure.

Representational models can be broadly divided into the concrete (e.g. physical form) and the abstract (e.g. behavioural patterns, especially as expressed in mathematical form). Of particular importance in the modern context, conceptual models are central to philosophy of science,[1][2] as almost every scientific theory effectively embeds some kind of model of the physical or human sphere.

In commerce, a model might instead reference a specific version or configuration of a product offering, rather than functioning as a representation of something else.

In taxonomic settings (e.g. biology, architecture, art) a model is sometimes a particular instance of a set of related entities (species, built structures, artistic compositions) chosen as a convenient reference point around which to build discourse; such a model is almost always chosen to typify some central tendency of the group, exemplify the group's defining characteristic, or reify the group's historical lineage.

Kinds of models include:

Physical model[edit]

A physical model is a physical representation of an object, such as a miniature aeroplane representing a real aeroplane

  • Model (art), a person posing for an artist, e.g. a 15th-century criminal representing the biblical Judas in Leonardo da Vinci's painting The Last Supper
    • Model (person), a person who serves as a template for others to copy, often in the context of advertising commercial products
  • Model (product), a particular design of a product offered by its manufacturer
    • Car model, a particular design of vehicle sold by a manufacturer
  • Model organism (often shortened to model), a non-human species that is studied to understand biological phenomena present in other related organisms, e.g. a guinea pig starved of vitamin C to study scurvy, an experiment that would be immoral to conduct on a person
  • Model (mimicry), a species that is mimicked by another species

Conceptual model[edit]

A conceptual model is a theoretical representation of a system, e.g. a set of equations attempting to describe the workings of the atmosphere for the purpose of weather forecasting.

  • Conceptual model (computer science), a representation of entities and their relationships
  • Mathematical model, a description of a system using mathematical concepts and language
  • Economic model, a theoretical construct representing economic processes
  • Statistical model, a mathematical model that usually specifies the relationship between one or more random variables and other non-random variables
  • Model (CGI), a mathematical representation of any surface of an object in three dimensions via specialized software
  • Model (logic), a set along with a collection of finitary operations, and relations that are defined on it, satisfying a given collection of axioms
  • Model (MVC), the central component of the model–view–controller software design pattern
  • Standard model (disambiguation)
  • Medical model, a proposed "set of procedures in which all doctors are trained"
  • Model act, a law drafted centrally to be disseminated and proposed for enactment in multiple independent legislatures


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ Tatomir, A.; et al. (2018). "Conceptual model development using a generic Features, Events, and Processes (FEP) database for assessing the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on groundwater aquifers". Advances in Geosciences. 45: 185–192. doi:10.5194/adgeo-45-185-2018.