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A mathematical model is a representation of a real system of interest intended to help understanding of the reality it attempts to mimic. To understand how models of geographic systems are built, we first need to examine how models fit in the overall process of generating theories through the scientific method. Models represent theories, and, although the theory might remain implicit, they are the mechanism through which theory can be tested against reality. Models thus enable us to explore a simplified geographical reality. Techniques from geographic information science are used at all stages in this modeling process.

Models are thus essential to the scientific method, which conventionally is one in which theories are not proved “true,” but are “falsified.” The process is one of generating ...

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