Model Makers’ Hippocratic Oath

At Business Week, Emanuel Derman and Paul Wilmott propose a model makers’ Hippocratic Oath:

• I will remember that I didn’t make the world and that it doesn’t satisfy my equations.

• Though I will use models boldly to estimate value, I will not be overly impressed by mathematics.

• I will never sacrifice reality for elegance without explaining why I have done so. Nor will I give the people who use my model false comfort about its accuracy. Instead, I will make explicit its assumptions and oversights.

• I understand that my work may have enormous effects on society and the economy, many of them beyond my comprehension.

I found this in a post by Aleks Jakulin at Andrew Gelman’s blog, where Gelman also linked to an important addition proposed by Mark Palko in the comments section to Jakulin’s post:

• Our model only describes the data we used to build it; if you go outside of that range, you do so at your own risk.

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