Modeling of Research Chemicals
Whether developing a conceptual model like the atomic model, a physical model like a miniature river delta, or a computer model like a global climate model, the first step is to define the system that is to be modeled and the goals for the model. "System" is a generic term that can apply to something very small (like a single atom), something very large (like the Earth's atmosphere), or something in between, like the distribution of nutrients in a local stream. So defining the system generally involves drawing the boundaries (literally or figuratively) around what you want to model, and then determining the key variables and the relationships between those variables.
Though this initial step may seem straightforward, it can be quite complicated. Inevitably, there are many more variables within a system than can be realistically included in a model, so scientists need to simplify. To do this, they make assumptions about which variables are most important. In building a physical model of a river delta, for example, the scientists made the assumption that biological processes like burrowing clams were not important to the large-scale structure of the delta, even though they are clearly a component of the real system.