February 21, 2022

All models are wrong, but some are useful

— George E. P. Box

The point of a model is not to be a perfect representation of the thing it’s modeling. The usefulness comes from abstracting away the details that aren’t relevant. A map that is a perfect representation of the territory would literally be the territory - and would no longer be useful because you couldn’t fold it up and put it in your pocket, or zoom in and out on a screen.

There are many ways to create abstractions of reality, but only a subset of those are actually useful for a given context.