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System Dynamics


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    Chapter3: System Dynamics (Textbook, pdf, 316KB)

  • 3.1 System Dynamics as the Simulation Technique for Social Systems
  • 3.2 Stock, Flow, Converter
  • 3.3 Feedback Loop
  • 3.4 Example: A local development model making efficient use of a rich natural environment
    • 3.4.1 Scenario
    • 3.4.2 Basic model based on a scenario
    • 3.4.3 Comparison among scenarios using SD

What is the relevance of System Dynamics in Field Informatics

With the recent social and economic development, many social issues such as environmental issues, food problems, depopulation and aging, and garbage problems have become obvious. Environmental issues and food problems are on a global scale, while other issues are considered as regional. It is very difficult to design investigations to clarify causes and the problem solutions because these social issues have been derived from various complex human activities. To resolve these social issues, it is necessary to clarify the relationship among various events in the field as a whole. In addition, we need to clarify the mechanisms that induce these issues. For this purpose, an approach that investigates the cause of social issues by considering the society as a model and connecting every causal relationship among events is effective. We can thereby understand the society through the behavior of the social model, and consequently predict future situations. System Dynamics is one of the computer simulation techniques that are very useful for understanding the society based on logical thinking. In this chapter, the concepts of system dynamics and its application fields are introduced.


System dynamics (SD) is one of the numerical simulation techniques that was developed for system analysis used in engineering to dynamically analyze systems in the field of business administration and social science. A social model in SD is described by stock, flow, converter and connector. SD is the leading technique to observe and predict the change of state of elements and the flows of objects and information among elements along a time scale. The utilization of software with graphical user interface (e.g. STELLA, Vensim) enables to simulate and analyze complex systems in which various factors are interrelated and its application range is wide. For example, if you try to analyze an environmental issue, you would build a social model, in which some factors related to ecosystem and human activities are included, focusing on the flows of indicator substances (such as carbon dioxide that is considered as one of the causative factors of global warming). By executing this model under SD, you can grasp the relationship among factors and the flows of indicator substances not only through numerical results but also by visualizing results with graphs. In addition, SD can be used as a tool of decision making and policy examination, because it is easy to compare the results of various scenarios with SD models.

Case Study

In this chapter, to get basic understanding of SD, it starts from explanation of stock, flow, converter and connector and illustration of feedback loop using typical saving model and bathtub model. Next, Assume that agriculture and tourism are the main local industries in the imaginary region making efficient use of its rich natural environment. Modeling to consider influence to a natural environment by resort development or importance of environment preservation for local development, we show an execution example using SD with some scenarios. Through these examples, we expect you to get more understanding of a method to analyze social model using SD.