Broadly speaking, there are two general approaches to teaching mathematical modeling: 1) The case study approach focusing on different specific modeling problems familiar to the particular author, and 2) The methods approach teaching some useful mathematical techniques accessible to the targeted student cohort with different models introduced to illustrate the application of the methods taught. The goal and approach of this new text differ from these two conventional approaches in that its emphasis is on the scientific issues that prompt the mathematical modeling and analysis of a particular phenomenon. For example, in the study of a fish population, we may be interested in the growth and evolution of the population, whether the natural growth or harvested population reaches a steady state (equilibrium or periodically changing) population in a particular environment, is a steady state stable or unstable with respect to a small perturbation from the equilibrium state, whether a small change in the environment would lead to a catastrophic change, etc.
Each of these scientific issues requires the introduction of a different kind of model and a different set of mathematical tools to extract information about the same biological organisms or phenomena.Volume I of this three volume set limits its scope to phenomena and scientific issues that can be modeled by ordinary differential equations (ODE) that govern the evolution of the phenomena with time. The scientific issues involved include evolution, equilibrium, stability, bifurcation, feedback, optimization and control. Scientific issues such as signal and wave propagation, diffusion, and shock formation pertaining to phenomena involving spatial dynamics are to be modeled by partial differential equations (PDE) and will be treated in Volume II. Scientific issues involving randomness and uncertainty are deferred to Volume III.