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MIT System Dynamics Seminar | If Vensim is the Answer, What is the Question?

October 20, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

Virtual Event Virtual Event

Please visit the MIT System Dynamics Seminars page for more information.

You are invited to attend the System Dynamics Seminar being held on Friday, October 20th from 12:30-2:00pm EST in the Jay W. Forrester conference room, E62-450, or via Zoom: (Password: SDFA23). Our guest speakers will be Tom Fiddaman (Ventana Systems) and Angie Moon (MIT Civil & Environmental Engineering)  presenting If Vensim is the answer, what is the question? Reflecting on the future direction of the System Dynamics tool and user ecosystem (see abstract below, announcement attached). Lunch will be provided to those attending in person and a reminder email will be sent out closer to the date.

If you would also like to schedule a 30-minute 1:1 meeting with Tom before or after the seminar, please fill out the following Doodle poll by COB Tuesday, October 17th and I will confirm times and location with a calendar invite:


Once upon a time, data was scarce, simulation was nearly unheard of, there were few ways to build and use quality dynamic models, and models rarely gave direct input to decisions. This made it easy for tool builders and tool users to coevolve within their own disciplinary stovepipes. The scale of our problems, and hopefully our opportunities, means that isolation is no longer viable. System Dynamics modelers can increasingly benefit from new tools in data science, AI and machine learning, and many fields could benefit from SD knowledge guiding better dynamics, realistic behavior, and useful interaction with decision makers.

Our future could be bright, with AI assistants freeing modelers from boring tasks, raising the productivity of thinking about systems, and making model results accessible to users. Or, it could be dark, with “ChatMDL” rapidly generating the simulation equivalent of 3-legged chicken images, models with superficial validity but more propaganda value than predictive accuracy, faster than we can debunk them.

In this seminar, I’d like to explore the state of the System Dynamics tool portfolio and the requirements of modelers and model consumers. In passing, I will mention the near-term roadmap for Vensim, as well as the broader ecosystem of SD tools many of us use. But the real goal is to discuss the long-term vision for System Dynamics. How do we realize a future in which:

  • it’s easy to make every model a Bayesian blend of structure and parameter priors from subject matter expertise and data likelihoods?
  • aggregation is not a dark art, but automated in a flexible and principled way?
  • every model run is a synthetic data experiment supporting decision making under uncertainty?
  • support for exploration of the state space yields as much understanding as we get from analytical methods on simple models?
  • we have the computing power to support these innovations, and
  • we can explain what we’re doing to influence people to solve our biggest problems.


October 20, 2023
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT
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MIT Jay W. Forrester Conference Room
77 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139 United States
+1 617-253-1571
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MIT System Dynamics Group
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