Questions for Models: How computers make predictions



Before reading

  1. How fast someone can run the 100-meter dash depends on a lot of things. List as many of these variables as you can.
  2. In the days before email, schools often used phone trees to quickly and easily spread information. To share a message, each classroom family would call two other families. Each of those families then would call two more, and so on. Sketch out a phone tree for your classroom.

During reading

  1. What is variability?
  2. What do computer models allow you to do?
  3. List some of the applications for computer models.
  4. Define “model.”
  5. Explain some of the ways using the football-kicking computer model can be helpful.
  6. Why would you want to use a computer to model networks?
  7. What is an algorithm?
  8. Provide some examples of the variables used in creating virtual models of farming.
  9. What are centrality measures and communicability measures?
  10. Define “node” and provide an example.

After reading

  1. Provide a concise definition of “computer model.”
  2. Why would it be so important to include various laws of physics in building a computer model that simulates kicking a football? Explain your answer.


1.    Imagine that flu spread through your class. The virus infected most, but not all, of your classmates. If you wanted to model the spread of the virus, what would form the nodes in this network? Which nodes would score highest using centrality measures? And which links would score highest, using communicability measures? Explain your answers.