“Mathematical modeling is the
process of using mathematics to study a question from outside the field of mathematics. A
mathematical model is a representation of a particular phenomenon using structures such as graphs, equations,
or algorithms. These models, in turn, produce new understandings about the
original settings of interest and help students (and researchers) answer the
questions that they have posed.”

Examples of questions that use mathematical modeling:

- How does dirt
affect the melting of snow mounds?
- What harvesting
guidelines will protect a lobster population in the face of uncontrollable
natural variations in the environment?
- How can
delegates to the United Nations be seated to maximize harmony?
- How should a town
structure the penalties for speeding tickets in order to generate the greatest
revenues?
- What arrangement of
ceiling lights provides the most even illumination of a room?

from Mathematical Modeling:Teaching the Open-ended Application of Mathematics by Joshua Paul Abrams