# What is a model?

## What is a model?

When it comes to tectonic models, there may be some confusion about the term “model”. Often, this term is interpreted as something the necessarily involves mathematics. Indeed, as the following definition shows, “model” often refers to mathematical models:

A simplified description, especially a mathematical one, of a system or process, to assist calculations and predictions.

However, the more important part of this definition lies within the first three words of the definition: **A simplified description**. Indeed, before mathematics may be used, models first involve the step of simplification. This step is crucial to even allow us to make an attempt to understand a given system. Most importantly, this step does not involve any mathematical knowledge. Mathematics may be used at a later step to determine whether a model is feasible, but this does not always need to be the case.

Finally, models are designed to help us understand certain observations. As they represent a simnplified version of the real system, they cannot explain every little detail of this system. They also don’t need to.