Analytical Methods for Structural Dominance Analysis in System Dynamics
Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science (2017); ISBN: 978-0-387-75888-6
31 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2018
Date Written: 2017
The link between system structure and dynamic behavior is one of the defining elements in the system dynamics paradigm, yet it is only recently that systematic, mathematically rigorous methods for exploring this link have started to become available. In a sense, a simulation model can be viewed as an explicit and consistent theory of the behavior it exhibits. Although this point of view has certain merits, not least the fact that it lifts the discussion from outcomes to causes of these outcomes and from events to underlying structure (Forrester 1961; Sterman 2000), we are concerned here with a more compact explanation of the system’s behavior. In fact, most system dynamics modeling projects report their results in terms of simpler explanations of the observed results, typically in terms of dominant feedback loops that produce the salient features of the behavior.
Most often, dominant structure is thought of in terms of feedback loops and, occasionally, external driving forces to the system. For simple systems with relatively few variables, it is usually easy to use intuition and trial-and-error simulation experiments to explain the dynamic behavior as resulting from particular feedback loops. In larger systems, this method becomes increasingly difficult and the risk of incorrect explanations rises accordingly. There is a need, therefore, for analytical methods that provide some consistency and rigor to this process.
Keywords: structural dominance analysis, system dynamics
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