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CONCEPTUAL MODELLING

Marzo 26 de 2012

Introduction
A simulation of a fast-food restaurant could take many
forms. At the simplest level the model might include
only the queues and service desks.
could be expanded to include the tables and seating
area, the kitchen, the supply of raw materials, the drive
thru, the car park and so on.
There is also a need to consider the level of detail at
which each component is to be modelled.
The purpose of this and the next chapter is to describe
the requirements for conceptual modelling and to
describe how a simulation modeller might go about
designing the conceptual model.

Conceptual Modelling: Important


but Little Understood
Conceptual modelling is almost certainly the most
important aspect of the simulation modelling process.
The model design impacts all aspects of the study

The
The
The
The
The

data requirements.
speed with which the model can be developed.
validity of the model.
speed of experimentation.
confidence that is placed in the model results.

A well designed model significantly enhances the


possibility that a simulation study will meet its objectives
within the required time-scale.
What sets truly successful modellers apart is their
effectiveness in conceptual modelling

Simulation studies suggest that 50% of the benefit is


obtained just from the development of the conceptual
model.
The modeller needs to develop a thorough
understanding of the operations system in order to
design an appropriate model.
Some might argue that the emergence of modern
simulation software has reduced, or even removed,
the need for conceptual modelling.
What modern simulation software does provide is an
environment for more rapid model development.

Could be argued that the power and memory of modern hardware and
the potential for distributed software has increased the need for
conceptual modelling.

Salt (1993) and Chwif et al. (2000) bemoan the increasing complexity of
simulation models and the problems associated with them.
People build more complex models because the hardware and software
enables them to.

There is surprisingly little written on the subject.

Law and McComas, 2001 - How to build valid and credible simulation models.
Proceedings of the 2001 Winter Simulation Conference (Peters, B.A., Smith, J.S.,
Medeiros, D.J. And Rohrer, M.W., eds). Piscataway, NJ: IEEE. pp. 2229.

The main reason for this lack of attention is no doubt that conceptual
modelling is more of an art than a science and therefore it is
difficult to define methods and procedures.

This chapter introduces the basic


concepts of conceptual modelling.
First, the meaning of conceptual
modelling is more precisely defined.
The requirements of a conceptual
model are discussed.
The chapter concludes by discussing
the reporting and communication of
the conceptual model.

What is a Conceptual
Model?
Zeigler (1976) sheds some light on the
definition of a conceptual model by
distinguishing between four terms:
The real system is that which the simulation
model is to represent.
The experimental frame is the limited set
of circumstances under which the real
system has been observed
The base model is capable of accounting for
the complete behaviour of the real system
The lumped model the components of the
system are lumped together and the
interconnections are simplified.

Conceptual Model
Definition
The conceptual model is a nonsoftware specific description of
the simulation model that is to be
developed, describing the
objectives, inputs, outputs,
content, assumptions and
simplifications of the model.

Two Key Features in the


Definition
1.Specifically
identifies
the
independence of the conceptual
model from the software in which
the simulation is to be developed.
2.The definition outlines the key
components of the conceptual
model, which are as follows:

Objectives: the purpose of the model and modelling


project.
Inputs: those elements of the model that can be altered
to effect an improvement in, or better understanding of,
the real world; otherwise known as the experimental
factors.
Outputs: report the results from simulation runs.
Content: The components that are represented in the
model and their interconnections.
Assumptions: Made either when there are uncertainties
or beliefs about the real world being modelled.
Simplifications: Incorporated in the model to enable
more rapid model development and use (Section 6.3).

Assumptions
are
ways
of
incorporating
uncertainties
and
beliefs about the real world into the
model.
Simplifications are ways of reducing
the complexity of the model.

The content of the model should be described


in terms of two dimensions:
The scope of the model: the model
boundary or the breadth of the real system
that is to be included in the model.
The level of detail: the detail to be
included for each component in the models
scope.
The purpose of the conceptual model is to set
out the basis on which the computer based
simulation (computer model) is to be
developed.

For many modellers there is a


temptation to start coding the
computer model as soon as possible.
Without due attention to the
development of the conceptual model,
however, this can lead to a model that
does not achieve what is required
The model may have to be completely
rewritten, wasting significant amounts of
time.

Requirements of the
Conceptual Model
Willemain (1994) lists five qualities of an
effective model: validity, usability, value to
client, feasibility and aptness for clients
problem.
Brooks and Tobias (1996) identify 11
performance criteria for a good model.

Four main requirements of a conceptual model:


Validity
Credibility
Utility
Feasibility.

Validity
A perception, on behalf of the modeller,
that the conceptual model will lead to a
computer model that is sufficiently
accurate for the purpose at hand.
Underlying this notion is the question of
whether the model is right.
The subject of validity is discussed in
more detail in Chapter 12.

Credibility
A perception, on behalf of the clients,
that the conceptual model will lead to
a computer model that is sufficiently
accurate for the purpose at hand.
Is taken from the perspective of the
clients rather than the modeller.

Utility
A perception, on behalf of the modeller and the
clients, that the conceptual model will lead to a
computer model that is useful as an aid to
decision-making within the specified context.
moves away from simply asking if the model is
sufficiently accurate, to whether it is useful.

Feasibility
A perception, on behalf of the modeller and the clients,
that the conceptual model can be developed into a
computer model.
Various factors may make a model infeasible.
It might not be possible to build the proposed model
within the required time-scale.
Data requirements of the model may be too onerous, or
there is insufficient knowledge of the real system to
develop the proposed model.

Keep the model simple

Communicating the
Conceptual Model
Background to the problem situation (Section 6.2.1).
Objectives of the simulation study (Section 6.2.2).
Expected benefits (Section 1.3.2).
The conceptual model: inputs, outputs, content (scope
and level of detail), assumptions and simplifications
(Chapter 6).
Experimentation: scenarios to be considered (Chapter
10).
Data requirements: data required, when
responsibility for collection (Section 7.2).
Time-scale and milestones (Section 4.3).
Estimated cost (Section 4.6).

required,

There are four main reasons why it should be


expected that the specification will change
during a simulation study:
Omissions in the original specification.
Changes in the real world.
An increased understanding of simulation on
behalf of the clients.
The identification of new problems through
the development and use of the simulation
model.

Representing the conceptual


model

Component list
Process flow diagram
Logic flow diagram
Activity cycle diagram

Component list

Process flow diagram


(process map)

Logic flow diagram

Activity cycle diagram