In physics, a toy model is a simplified set of objects and equations relating them so that they can nevertheless be used to understand a mechanism that is also useful in the full, non-simplified theory.
- In "toy" mathematical models, this is usually done by reducing the number of dimensions or reducing the number of fields/variables or restricting them to a particular symmetric form.
- In "toy" physical descriptions, an everyday example of an analogous mechanism is often used to illustrate an effect in order to make the phenomenon easier to visualize.
Some examples of "toy models" in physics might be: the Ising model as a toy model for ferromagnetism, or, more generally, as one of the simplest examples of lattice models; orbital mechanics described by assuming that the Earth is attached to the Sun by a large elastic band; Hawking radiation around a black hole described as conventional radiation from a fictitious membrane at radius r=2M (the black hole membrane paradigm); frame-dragging around a rotating star considered as the effect of space being a conventional "draggable" fluid.
The phrase "Tinker-toy model" is also sometimes used in this context, and refers to a particular children's construction toy that allows objects to be built easily but somewhat unrealistically.
... wormhole metrics (which can serve as a speculative toy model of a stargate held open by a hypothetical kind of exotic matter, as in 2001 A Space Odyssey ...
... The Spekkens toy model is a conceptually simple model, introduced by Robert Spekkens in 2004, to argue in favour of the epistemic view of quantum mechanics ... The model is based on a foundational principle "If one has maximal knowledge, then for every system, at every time, the amount of knowledge one possesses about the ontic state of the system at that time must ... with quantum theory has strong analogues inside the toy model, such as the Bloch sphere and similar forms of transformations ...
Famous quotes containing the words model and/or toy:
“... if we look around us in social life and note down who are the faithful wives, the most patient and careful mothers, the most exemplary housekeepers, the model sisters, the wisest philanthropists, and the women of the most social influence, we will have to admit that most frequently they are women of cultivated minds, without which even warm hearts and good intentions are but partial influences.”
—Mrs. H. O. Ward (18241899)
“I did toy with the idea of doing a cook-book.... The recipes were to be the routine ones: how to make dry toast, instant coffee, hearts of lettuce and brownies. But as an added attraction, at no extra charge, my idea was to put a fried egg on the cover. I think a lot of people who hate literature but love fried eggs would buy it if the price was right.”
—Groucho Marx (18951977)