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This chapter focuses on the mechanics

of getting such a model up and running, and
reviewing the results.

This chapter helps you get started by:
- Moving step-by-step through an example.
- Detailing many key functions and activities.
- Providing a starting point for further
application and exploration.

This chapter describes a set of steps you can
take to build and analyze a simple model,
which lets you try out some of the most
important features of Vensim.


The problem posed is to develop a
model of population growth in a situation
where are no restrictions on growth. It is a representation of the natural rate of growth in a
species population when there are no predators, and no restrictions on habitat, food supply
or water supply. The idea underlying the model is simple. Births and deaths are
proportional to population, and population is the accumulation of births less deaths. Not
surprisingly this is a simple model to build and understand.


This model features a simulation model of a rabbit population. The modelling
process starts with sketching a model, then writing equations and specifying numerical
quantities. Next, the model is simulated and simulation output saved to a dataset. Finally,
the simulation data can be examined with analysis tools to discover the dynamic behavior
of variables in the model.

A system dynamics simulation model is solely determined by the equations that
govern the relationships between different variables. The full equation listing completely
describes a Vensim model. The structural diagram of a model is a picture of relationships
between variables.

Graphic system dynamics models should be clearly presented to facilitate model
building, analysis, and presentation.


Stocks are entered with the Box Variable sketch tool. Flows are
entered with the Flow sketch tool. Vensim draws a Flow with one arrowhead,
which indicates the positive direction of flow.

Constants, Auxiliaries and other variables are usually entered with the Variable
sketch tool just as words, with no shape attached.


Click the New Model button, or select the menu item File - New Model.

In the Time Bounds dialog, leave INITIAL TIME at 0, type 100 for FINAL TIME.
Click on the drop-down arrow for Units for Time, and select Week. Click on OK (or press

Select the Box Variable sketch tool and click somewhere in the
middle of the sketch. An editing box will appear; type the word Population, and press the
Enter key.

Select the Flow sketch tool. Click once (single click and release of
the mouse button) about 2 inches (5 cm) to the left of the Stock Population, then move
the cursor on top of Population and click once again. Type the name Births, and press

Click once on the Stock Population then move the cursor about 2 inches (5 cm)
right and click again. Type the name Deaths, and press Enter.

Select the Variable sketch tool. Click on the sketch below Births, type
Birth rate and press Enter.

Click on the sketch below Deaths, type Average lifetime and press Enter.

Select the Arrow sketch tool, click once on Birth rate then once
on Births. Click once on Average lifetime, then once on Deaths.

Click once on Population, then once on the sketch a little below and left of
Population, then once on the Flow Births.

Click once on Population, then once on the sketch a little below and right of
Population, then once on the Flow Deaths. Click on the small circles in the arrows
to bend them.

Click the Save button and save your model in the directory that you prefer.
Name your model: population.mdl.

The structure of the Population model is now complete. A positive feedback loop
from Population to Births increases Population, and a negative feedback loop from
Deaths decreases Population.


In order to simulate the model needs a set of equations that describe each
relationship. These equations are simple algebraic expressions, defining one variable in
terms of others that are causally connected. For example:

Births = Population * Birth rate

Looking at the sketch view, Birth rate has no causes; it is a Constant in the model.
This Constant has a numerical value which we will fill in later.

Click on the Equations sketch tool.

All the variables in the model will turn black. The highlights indicate which
variables still require equations.

Click on the variable Births.

The Equation Editor opens. The top of the editor has the name of the variable we
clicked on: Births. The drop-down list box on the left shows the type of variable:
Auxiliary. Vensim considers Rates and Auxiliaries to be the same Type of variable. The
cursor is positioned in the equation editing box (next to the = sign). Complete the equation
for Births as below (in the editing box)

Click on the variable Population in the Variables list (in the middle of the Equation
Editor), then type the * symbol , then click on Birth rate in the Variables list. Click on

Click on Population.

The Equation Editor opens and is slightly different from what we saw with the
variable Births.

The drop-down list box on the left shows the type
of variable: Level (Level is equivalent to Stock)

Left of the equation editing box is the INTEG
function that defines a Level or Stock (integrating the
variable over time). An equation is already present in the
equation editing box. Because we connected Rates with
the names Births and Deaths to the Stock, Vensim
automatically enters the Rates to the Stock equation.

The Equation Editor for a Stock has an extra editing box to set the starting or initial
value; the cursor is placed there.

In the Initial Value editing box, type in 1000. This value is the initial number of
rabbits at the start of the simulation.

Click on Birth rate. Type in the numbers 0.04 in the editing box.

Complete the remaining two equations as they are shown in the Equations listing

Population.mdl Equations:

Average lifetime = 50
Birth rate = 0.04
Births = Population * Birth rate
Deaths = Population / Average lifetime
Population = Births - Deaths
Initial value: 1000


Click on the Simulate button.

The model will simulate, showing a work-in-progress window until completion.


This model has been designed to show the evolution in the rabbit population.

Double click on the Stock Population in the sketch.

This selects it as the Workbench Variable. Check the Title Bar at the top of the
Vensim window to see that Population is selected.

Click on the Graph tool. A graph of Population is generated:

Now click on the Causes Strip tool.

A strip graph is generated showing
Population and its causes Births and Deaths.