This tutorial aims to help you get started to build and run custom models using the model building functionality mparse() in SimInf. I assume you have already installed R ( and an editor, for example, Emacs Speaks Statistics (ESS) ( or the RStudio IDE ( SimInf uses C code internally to ensure high performance of the simulator and the mparse function automatically generates the necessary C code for a model and you do not need to know any C programming in order to use it. However, mparse() requires that a C compiler is installed in order to transform the generated C code into a module that is dynamically loaded and used internally in SimInf. We will return to the details later.

Software installation instructions


The C compiler toolchain on Windows is called Rtools ( Download Rtools35.exe (assuming you are using a recent/latest version of R) and then run the installer. In my experience, using the default options during the installation works fine. After installing Rtools, you need to add the path C:/Rtools/bin (assuming you installed to the default directory) to the system PATH environment variable. One way to do that is to update the PATH variable in the System Properties dialog box. Another way is to specify the path to Rtools when R starts. During startup, R reads some files to load user-specific settings and one such file is .Rprofile in your home directory. If you run the following in your R terminal, where the ~ (tilde) character is a shorthand for your home directory, then the .Rprofile file is created with the path to Rtools.

filename <- "~/.Rprofile"
if (file.exists(filename)) {
    ## Do not overwrite the file if it exists.
    stop("The '~/.Rprofile' already exists")
} else {
    path <- "Sys.setenv(PATH = paste0('C:/Rtools/bin;', Sys.getenv('PATH')))"
    writeLines(text = path, con = filename)


The C compiler toolchain on macOS is called Xcode and can be installed via the App Store or downloaded from (


The C compiler toolchain is installed on your system if you have successfully installed SimInf.

Test the installation

Now, let us check that we can build and run a user-defined model. First, we load SimInf in R using the following command.


We will return to the details later, for now we just want to check that the installation works and that we can use the model parser to create, for example, a Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) model. Let beta denote the transmission rate, gamma the recovery rate, u0 the initial population and tspan the time span to simulate a trajectory.

model  <- mparse(transitions = c("S -> beta*S*I/(S+I+R) -> I",
                                 "I -> gamma*I -> R"),
                 compartments = c("S", "I", "R"),
                 gdata = c(beta = 0.16, gamma = 0.077),
                 u0 = data.frame(S = 100, I = 1, R = 0),
                 tspan = 1:100)

Now, you can type model or summary(model) to display some basic model information.

## Model: SimInf_model
## Number of nodes: 1
## Number of transitions: 2
## Number of scheduled events: 0
## Global data
## -----------
##  Parameter Value
##  beta      0.160
##  gamma     0.077
## Compartments
## ------------
##  - Empty, please run the model first

Let us now check if it works to run the SIR model. For reproducibility, we first call the set.seed() function.

result <- run(model)

The result from one realisation of the SIR model if the simulation worked.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please share and remix noncommercially, mentioning its origin.

Creative Commons License

This document was produced using SimInf version 8.2.0 and R version 4.0.3.

The SimInf software has been made possible by support from the Swedish Research Council within the UPMARC Linnaeus centre of Excellence (Pavol Bauer, Robin Eriksson and Stefan Engblom), the Swedish Research Council Formas (Stefan Engblom and Stefan Widgren), the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Stefan Widgren), and by the Swedish strategic research program eSSENCE (Stefan Widgren).