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Time in System Dynamics Models

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System Dynamics Pitfalls and Pointers

Time in System Dynamics Models

System dynamics modelling is time-domain modelling in which we set out to formulate and analyse how cause-and-effect relationships work to produce variations over time. Building rigorous, reliable and meaningful system dynamics models demands a sound understanding of time, and how to represent the passing of time in models. In system dynamics modelling, we are interested in five distinct representations of time:

  • Time Horizon—length of a planned simulation, from a defined start time to a defined stop time.
  • Time Status—current simulation time, which will lie somewhere between the defined start and the defined stop time, and includes the start and stop times.
  • Elapsed Time—time elapsed since the current simulation commenced.
  • Time Unit—the chosen unit of time used throughout the simulation for the purpose of making calculations and providing reports.
  • Delta Time, dt or Timestep—the increment of time by which the current simulation progresses once of a given single cycle of calculations has been completed.

     The following defines the meaning of time and how to correctly represent it in system dynamics models .


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