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Toy model

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In the modeling of physics, a toy model is a deliberately simplistic model with many details removed so that it can be used to explain a mechanism concisely. It is also useful in a description of the fuller model.

  • In "toy" mathematical models,[clarification needed] this is usually done by reducing or extending the number of dimensions or reducing the number of fields/variables or restricting them to a particular symmetric form.
  • In Macroeconomics modelling, are a class of models, some may be only loosely based on theory, others more explicitly so. But they have the same purpose. They allow for a quick first pass at some question, and present the essence of the answer from a more complicated model or from a class of models. For the researcher, they may come before writing a more elaborate model, or after, once the elaborate model has been worked out. Blanchard list of examples includes IS–LM model, the Mundell–Fleming model, the RBC model, and the New Keynesian model.[1]
  • In "toy" physical descriptions, an analogous example of an everyday mechanism is often used for illustration.

The phrase "tinker-toy model" is also used,[citation needed] in reference to the popular Tinkertoys used for children's constructivist learning.


Examples of toy models in physics include:

See also[edit]

  • Physical model – Informative representation of an entity
  • Spherical cow – Humorous concept in scientific models
  • Toy problem – Simplified example problem used for research or exposition
  • Toy theorem – Simplified instance of a general theorem


  1. ^ 3. BLANCHARD O., 2018- On the future of macroeconomic models, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Volume 34, Numbers 1–2, 2018, p.p.52-53.
  2. ^ Hartmann, Alexander K.; Weigt, Martin (2006-05-12). Phase Transitions in Combinatorial Optimization Problems: Basics, Algorithms and Statistical Mechanics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 104. ISBN 978-3-527-60686-3.
  3. ^ "Ising model". nlab-pages.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  4. ^ "The Ising Model". stanford.edu. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  5. ^ Buchert, T.; Carfora, M.; Ellis, G. F. R.; Kolb, E. W.; MacCallum, M. A. H.; Ostrowski, J. J.; Räsänen, S.; Roukema, B. F.; Andersson, L.; Coley, A. A.; Wiltshire, D. L. (2015-11-05). "Is there proof that backreaction of inhomogeneities is irrelevant in cosmology?". Classical and Quantum Gravity. 32 (21): 215021. arXiv:1505.07800. Bibcode:2015CQGra..32u5021B. doi:10.1088/0264-9381/32/21/215021. hdl:10138/310154. ISSN 0264-9381. S2CID 51693570.