Graphical means for inspecting qualitative models of system behaviour

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents the design and evaluation of a tool for inspecting conceptual models of system behaviour. The basis for this research is the Garp framework for qualitative simulation. This framework includes modelling primitives, such as entities, quantities and causal dependencies, which are combined into model fragments and scenarios. Given a library of model fragments and a scenario describing an initial situation, the qualitative simulation engine generates predictions in the form of a state-transition graph. This rich knowledge representation has potential for educational purposes. However, communicating the contents of simulation models effectively to learners is not trivial. The predicate logic format used by Garp is not easy for non-experts to understand, and a simulation often contains so much information that it is difficult to get an overview while still having access to detailed information. To address these problems, a tool has been developed that generates graphical representations of the information contained in a qualitative simulation. This tool, named VisiGarp, incorporates a vocabulary of graphical elements for model ingredients and relationships, and combines these into interactive diagrams. VisiGarp has been evaluated by thirty students, with promising results, using a setup which included simulation results and exercises about Brazilian Cerrado ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-208
Number of pages36
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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