Mathematical Model

Pronunciation: /ˌmæθ əˈmæt ɪ kəl ˈmɒd l/ Explain

A mathematical model is a graph, table or function that approximates either real world data or situations, or illustrates a mathematical principle.

Graphs as Mathematical Models

Graph of exponential growth model that increases slowly
        at first, then quickly.
Figure 1: Graph of exponential growth model that increases slowly at first, then quickly.

A graph can model real life situations. The graph in figure 1 is a model of exponential growth. Exponential growth occurs in natural populations that grow without significant competition or predators.

Tables as Mathematical Models


Year

2003

2004

2005
(est.)
2006
Sales526184106
All dollar amounts are in millions of dollars
Figure 2: Table as a mathematical model.

Tables can be mathematical models too. In the table in figure 2, sales from the years 2003, 2004, and 2005 were used to estimate the sales for 2006. The characters '(est.)' in the table tell us the 2006 datum is an estimate, and is not actual sales.

Functions as Mathematical Models

f(x)=e^x
Figure 3 - Function as a mathematical model.

A function can also model real world data. The function in figure 3 is an exponential function and is used to model many natural events.

Educator Resources

Cite this article as:

McAdams, David E. Mathematical Model. 9/2/2018. All Math Words Encyclopedia. Life is a Story Problem LLC. http://www.allmathwords.org/en/m/mathmodel.html.

Image Credits

Revision History

9/2/2018: Removed broken links, updated license, implemented new markup. (McAdams, David E.)
8/7/2018: Changed vocabulary links to WORDLINK format. (McAdams, David E.)
12/30/2008: Added vocabulary link to approximate. (McAdams, David E.)
6/7/2008: Corrected spelling. (McAdams, David E.)
7/12/2007: Initial version. (McAdams, David E.)

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