David Ingram

Published On


Page Range

pp. 259–324


  • English

Print Length

66 pages

4. Models and Simulations

The Third Arm of Science

  • David Ingram (author)
Modelling and simulation have arisen as a third branch of science alongside theory and experiment, enabling and supporting discovery, insight, prediction and action. The Information Age gave rise to an upsurge in the use of models to represent, rationalize and reason about measured and predicted appearances of the real world. This chapter describes different kinds of model—physical, mathematical, computational—and their use in different domains and for different purposes. Solutions of mathematical model equations that defied analytical method and required huge amounts of mental and manual effort for the calculations made, before the computer, became considerably more straightforward to deal with using computational methods and tools developed and refined in the Information Age.

In the examples described, the focus is on pioneers I have been taught by, got to know or collaborated with: John Houghton (1931–2020) on weather and climate modelling, to give a perspective from a non-medical domain; Arthur Guyton (1919–2003) and John Dickinson (1927–2015) on modelling of body systems and clinical physiology; Louis Sheppard on model-based control systems for intensive care, and mathematical models applied to track and predict the course of epidemics and analyze clinical decisions. Other examples are from teams I have been privileged to see firsthand, as a reviewer and advisory board chair of largescale research projects across the European Union.

With colleagues in the UK and Canada, I previously published the Mac Series models of clinical physiology with Oxford University Press. I have established a Cloud-based emulation environment to provide access to these working models—created in the first half of my career and thus now archaic in terms of software interface—to accompany their description in one of the chapter’s examples.


David Ingram


David Ingram’s career from 1967 spanned posts in industry, the NHS and University Medical Schools. After undergraduate physics at Oxford and several years in the medical engineering industry, he studied computer science and completed doctoral research on the mathematical modelling of biological systems, at University College London. His first academic post was at The Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, from 1975, where he was appointed Professor of Medical Informatics in 1990. From 1995-2011, he was the founding Director of the UCL Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Education (CHIME). David participated as partner and reviewer in UK Research Council, NHS, national e-Science and EU Health Informatics programmes and projects, including leading the EU GEHR Project (1991-94). This laid the foundations for the ISO-adopted openEHR specifications for a novel, vendor and technology neutral method for standardising the design of electronic health records, now being taken forward internationally by the openEHR.Foundation, of which he is the Founding President and Chairman of the Board of Governors. He is a founding Trustee of the OpenEyes Foundation, which is developing and marketing opensource software for ophthalmology, now providing the care record for 40% of UK patients. In retirement since 2010, he is focused on keeping well – eg by learning and using a new language, tracking lively grandchildren, following new physics, and learning to dance properly! Recently, he has become active in promoting a novel new technology to provide prescription glasses at very low cost for the developing world, where their lack causes extreme hardship.