TD 651: System Dynamics (Fall 2013)

This is a half semester course as part of 'Technolgy in Practice' series.

Schedule: Lecture Slot 9 in SIC 301
Instructor: Om Damani
TA: Hemant Belsare
Moodle: Slides, Assignments, Solution, Newsgroup etc.

System Dynamics (SD) is an important framework to represent and analyse complex interconnected systems. It first achieved prominence with the work of Forrester and Meadows called "the limits to growth" where they developed an abstract world model and used it to illustrate possible futures. The model used a sectoral representation of the world, i.e., population, technology, resources, energy and so on and linkages between these quantities. It is often called the 'language of sustainability'.

The key idea in System Based Thinking is that Events do not happen in isolation - they happen in a system. And different parts of the system react differently to a given event. And other parts react to these reactions and so on. This means that cause and effect are generally separated in both time and space.

SD is now an important representation (and eventually simulation) tool in many development scenarios. It is based on both a subjective/qualitative analysis of major attributes of the system, and also data driven parts to get the simulations right. In this course our focus will be on Systems Thinking and Systems Representation. The dynamic and simulation part will be introduced but not covered in detail.


1. Sterman, John D. Business Dynamics : Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World, Indian Edition - Tata Mcgraw Hill : 2010.

Pre-requisites: None

Audit Requirements: You have to do all the assignments. There will be at least one assignment per week.


Lecture Topics

1) Introduction to Systems Thinking: What is Systems Dynamics. Event based vs. System Based view of the world. Examples: Ban Endosulfin , Promote Bamboo based housing in Waynad , Distribute free TVs.

2) Feedback Systems Thinking/Causal Loop Diagrams: Causality, Causal Chains, Causal Loop Diagrams, meaning of links and polarities on links, loop polarities

3) Stock and Flow: notion of stock, rate of change, conservation of stock, system boundary - sources and sinks for flows, tangible vs intangible stocks

4) Fundamental modes of dynamic behavior: Exponential growth, Goal seeking, Oscillation, S-shaped growth

5) Computer Simulation: Vensim, notations, S-I-R model

6) Population Growth Model

7) Project Review

8) Delay and Table lookup

9) Equilibrium Dynamics

10) Demand-Supply Equilibrium model

11) Demand-Supply Equilibrium model extended

12) Urban Dynamics - Housing Sector - CLD

13) Urban Dynamics - Business Sector

14) Project Presentation