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The typical tribological system is very complicated and many of the contributory fundamental process are themselves poorly understood. Attempts to apply traditional mechanical modeling to such systems generally fail from lack of appropriate data and from an inability to describe the complexity of the real system. Even if such an attempt were to succeed, there would often be so many independent parameters required to describe the system that suitably comprehensive results could not be conveniently presented.
Recognizing these difficulties, publication and funding priorities should emphasize the importance of deducing approximate but generally applicable rules for the behaviour of broad classes of systems. Researchers should endeavour to determine which features of the real system are most influential in determining its behaviour, with a view to guiding the designer in a choice of model which is simple enough to analyze, but which retains the essential physics of the problem.
Tribology, design, modeling
Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI