In this chapter we describe the basic elements that go into the construction of computer models and the salient properties of such models. The computer models in this book are based on dynamical equations that represent the laws of nature for the system under consideration. These dynamical laws are partial differential equations in space and time for a set of state variables. These equations can in most cases not be solved analytically but must be solved numerically. This requires first the discretization of the equations, both in space and time. The continuous problem with its infinite number of degrees of freedom is reduced to a discrete problem with a finite and manageable number of degrees of freedom. The discretized equations are then turned into a computer code that can be executed on a computer. This code then is the computer model.
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