Simplicity and Simplification in Astrophysical Modeling

Philosophy of Science 85 (5):819-831 (2018)

With the ever-growing quality of observational data in astronomy, the complexity of astrophysical models has been increasing in turn. This trend raises the question: Are there still reasons to prefer simpler models if the final goal is an actual model-target comparison? I argue for two aspects in which astrophysical research may favor models having reduced complexity: first, to address the problem of determining the values of adjustable parameters and, second, to pave the way for a validation of the model based on the modeler’s understanding of the scope of the model and the critical processes on the target’s side.
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DOI 10.1086/699696
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