15.879 | Spring 2014 | Graduate

Research Seminar in System Dynamics


[BD]= Sterman, John D. Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2000. ISBN: 9780072311358.


Intro; Choosing Projects, Modeling Process, Selecting Stock Variables

Stock Selection video

Martinez–Moyano, Ignacio, and George P. Richardson. “Best Practices in System Dynamics Modeling.” System Dynamics Review 29, no. 2 (2013): 102–23.

[BD] Chapter 3.

Andersen, David F., George P. Richardson, et al. “Group Model Buidling: Adding More Science to the Craft.” System Dynamics Review 13, no. 2 (1998): 187–201.

Hines Modeling Process Overview (PDF)

Wolstenholme, Eric F. “A Systematic Approach to Model Creation.” In Modeling for Learning Organizations. Edited by John D. W. Morecroft and John D. Sterman. Productivity Press, 1994. ISBN: 9781563270604.

2 Model Analysis Process; Equilibrium

[BD] 7.1.1 and 15.5.

Homer, Jack B. “Why We Iterate: Scientific Modeling in Theory and Practice.” System Dynamics Review 12, no. 1 (1996): 1–19.

Ford, David N. “A Behavioral Approach to Feedback Loop Dominance Analysis.” System Dynamics Review 15, no. 1 (1999): 3–36.

3 Model Replication and Analysis

Kampmann, Christian. “Replication and Revision of a Classic System Dynamics Model: Critique of “Population Control Mechanisms in a Primitive Agricultural Society.” System Dynamics Review 7, no. 2 (1991): 159–98.

Skim: Shantzis, Steven B., and William W. Behrens III. “Population Control Mechanisms in a Primitive Agricultural Society.” System Dynamics Group, Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, M.I.T. 1972.

4 Formulations: Allocation, Coflows

[BD] 10.8.1 and 12.2.

Vensim Help: Reference Manual>Functions>Allocation Functions chapter
Note: On the Vensim site sidebar, double–click the book icon to show dropdown list of chapter contents.

Eberlein, Robert L, and James P. Thompson. “Precise Modeling of Aging Populations.” System Dynamics Review 29, no. 2 (2013): 87–101.

5 Useful functional forms, Subscripts, Data Connections

Ford, David N., and John D. Sterman. “Expert Knowledge Elicitation to Improve Formal and Mental Models.” System Dynamics Review 14, no. 4 (1998): 300–40.

“Command Script in Vensim” Tutorial; “Linear Regression in Vensim” Tutorial; “Connecting Vensim to MS Access with ODBC” Tutorial. 

6 Process Noise, Sensitivity and Monte Carlo Simulation

[BD] 21.4.7, 21.4.11, and Appendix B.

Sensitivity Analysis in Vensim” Tutorial

7 Optimization (deterministic and stochastic)

Oliva, Rogelio. “Model Calibration as a Testing Strategy for System Dynamics Models.” European Journal of Operational Research 151, no. 3 (2003): 552–68.

Moxnes, Erling. “Optimization and System Dynamics as Complements.” (2014).

Vensim User Guide, Chapter 18 from Policy Optimization to end.

8 Calibration (Maximum Likelihood and simulated method of moments)

Jalali, Mohammad, Hazhir Rahmandad, et al. “Using the Method of Simulated Moments (MSM) for Identification of Dynamic Models.” (PDF) Working Paper, 2014.

Struben, Jeroen, John Sterman, and David Keith. “Parameter and Confidence Interval Estimation in Dynamic Models: Maximum Likelihood and Bootstrapping Methods.” Working Paper, 2014.

9 Calibration (Kalman Filtering and confidence intervals)

Eberlein, Robert L. “Working with Data using Filtering and State Resetting.” Working Paper, 2014.

Dogan, Gokhan. “Bootstrapping for Confidence Interval Estimation and Hypothesis Testing for Parameters of System Dynamics Models.” System Dynamics Review 23, no. 4 (2007): 415–36.

Osgood, Nathaniel, et al. “An Introduction to Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo Approaches with Dynamic Models.” Working Paper, 2014.

Osgood, Nathaniel, and JuxinLiu. “Towards Closed Loop Modeling: Evaluation the Prospects for Creating Recurrently Regrounded Aggregate Simulation Models Using Particle Filtering.” Proceedings of the 2014 Winter Simulation Conference. Edited by A. Tolk, S. D. Diallo, I. O. Ryzhov, L. Yilmaz, S. Buckley, and J. A. Miller, 2014.

10 Dynamic Control and Games

Bertsekas, Dimitri P., and John N. Tsitsiklis. “Introduction.” In Neuro–Dynamic Programming. Athena Scientific, 1996, pp. 2–10. ISBN: 9781886529106.

Rahmandad and Spiteri. “An Introduction to Differential Games for Dynamic Modelers.” Working Paper, 2014.

Andersen, Edward G., and Nitin R. Joglekar. “Using Optimal Control Theory with Dynamic Models.” Working Paper, 2014.

11 Advanced Model Analysis Techniques

Mojtahedzadeh, Mohammad, David Andersen, et al. “Using Digest to Implement the Pathway Participation Method for Detecting Influential System Structure.” System Dynamics Review 20, no. 1 (2004): 1–20.

Kampmann, Christian, and Rogelio Oliva. “Loop Eigenvalue Elsaticity Analysis: Three Case Studies.” System Dynamics Review 22, no. 2 (2006): 141–62.

12 Modeling that Matters; Final notes

Thompson, Kimberly M., et al. “The Risks, Costs, and Benefits of Possible Future Global Policies for Managing Polioviruses.” American Journal of Public Health 98, no. 7 (2008): 1322–30.

Milstein, Bobby, Jack Homer, et al. “Analyzing National Health Reform Strategies With a Dynamic Simulation Model.” American Journal of Public Health 100, no. 5 (2010): 811–9.


Hines, Jim. Guidelines for kickoff meeting and first Group presentation: Definition of Concern and Momentum Policies (PDF)

———. Guidelines for second client meeting(s) and presentation (PDF)

———. Guidelines for third Group presentation: Dynamic Hypotheses (PDF)

———. Guidelines for fifth project week and group presentation: Partial model of first hypothesis (PDF)

———. Guidelines for sixth project week and presentation: Model and analysis of first hypothesis (PDF)

———. Molecules of Structure: Building Blocks for System Dynamics Models. Version 2.02 (2005) (PDF)

Additional References

Pierson, Kawika, and John D. Sterman."Cyclical Dynamics of Airline Industry Earnings.” System Dynamics Review 29, no. 3 (2013): 129–56.

Ford, Andrew, and Hilary Flynn. “Statistical Screening of System Dynamics Models.” System Dynamics Review 21, no. 4 (2005): 273–303.

Oliva, Rogelio. “Eigenvalue Elasticity Analysis.” (2014). Draft.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Tutorial Videos
Written Assignments
Media Assignments with Examples
Instructor Insights