Model File

Syntax elements


A model file contains a list of commands and of blocks. Each command and each element of a block is terminated by a semicolon (;). Blocks are terminated by end;.

If Dynare encounters an unknown expression at the beginning of a line or after a semicolon, it will parse the rest of that line as native Julia code, even if there are more statements separated by semicolons present. To prevent cryptic error messages, it is strongly recommended to always only put one statement/command into each line and start a new line after each semicolon.[1]

Lines of codes can be commented out line by line or as a block. Single-line comments begin with // and stop at the end of the line. Multiline comments are introduced by /* and terminated by */.


// This is a single line comment

var x; // This is a comment about x

/* This is another inline comment about alpha */  alpha = 0.3;

  This comment is spanning
  two lines.

Note that these comment marks should not be used in native Julia code regions where the [#] should be preferred instead to introduce a comment. In a verbatim block, see verbatim, this would result in a crash since // is not a valid Julia statement).

Most Dynare commands have arguments and several accept options, indicated in parentheses after the command keyword. Several options are separated by commas.

In the description of Dynare commands, the following conventions are observed:

  • Optional arguments or options are indicated between square brackets: '[]';
  • Repeated arguments are indicated by ellipses: "...";
  • Mutually exclusive arguments are separated by vertical bars: '|';
  • INTEGER indicates an integer number;
  • INTEGER_VECTOR indicates a vector of integer numbers separated by spaces, enclosed by square brackets;
  • DOUBLE indicates a double precision number. The following syntaxes are valid: 1.1e3, 1.1E3, 1.1d3, 1.1D3. In some places, infinite Values Inf and -Inf are also allowed;
  • NUMERICAL_VECTOR indicates a vector of numbers separated by spaces, enclosed by square brackets;
  • EXPRESSION indicates a mathematical expression valid outside the model description (see expr);
  • MODEL_EXPRESSION (sometimes MODEL_EXP) indicates a mathematical expression valid in the model description (see expr and model-decl);
  • MACRO_EXPRESSION designates an expression of the macro processor (see macro-exp);
  • VARIABLE_NAME (sometimes VAR_NAME) indicates a variable name starting with an alphabetical character and can't contain: '()+-*/\^=!;:@#.' or accentuated characters;
  • PARAMETER_NAME (sometimes PARAM_NAME) indicates a parameter name starting with an alphabetical character and can't contain: '()+-*/\^=!;:@#.' or accentuated characters;
  • LATEX_NAME (sometimes TEX_NAME) indicates a valid LaTeX expression in math mode (not including the dollar signs);
  • FUNCTION_NAME indicates a valid Julia function name;
  • FILENAME indicates a filename valid in the underlying operating system; it is necessary to put it between quotes when specifying the extension or if the filename contains a non-alphanumeric character;
  • QUOTED_STRING indicates an arbitrary string enclosed between (single) quotes. Note that Dynare commands call for single quotes around a string while in Julia strings are enclosed between double quotes.


Dynare distinguishes between two types of mathematical expressions: those that are used to describe the model, and those that are used outside the model block (e.g. for initializing parameters or variables, or as command options). In this manual, those two types of expressions are respectively denoted by MODEL_EXPRESSION and EXPRESSION.

Unlike Julia expressions, Dynare expressions are necessarily scalar ones: they cannot contain matrices or evaluate to matrices.[2]

Expressions can be constructed using integers (INTEGER), floating point numbers (DOUBLE), parameter names (PARAMETER_NAME), variable names (VARIABLE_NAME), operators and functions.

The following special constants are also accepted in some contexts:

Constant: inf

Represents infinity.

Constant: nan

"Not a number": represents an undefined or unrepresentable value.

Parameters and variables

Parameters and variables can be introduced in expressions by simply typing their names. The semantics of parameters and variables is quite different whether they are used inside or outside the model block.

Inside the model

Parameters used inside the model refer to the value given through parameter initialization (see param-init) or homotopy_setup when doing a simulation, or are the estimated variables when doing an estimation.

Variables used in a MODEL_EXPRESSION denote current period values when neither a lead or a lag is given. A lead or a lag can be given by enclosing an integer between parenthesis just after the variable name: a positive integer means a lead, a negative one means a lag. Leads or lags of more than one period are allowed. For example, if c is an endogenous variable, then c(+1) is the variable one period ahead, and c(-2) is the variable two periods before.

When specifying the leads and lags of endogenous variables, it is important to respect the following convention: in Dynare, the timing of a variable reflects when that variable is decided. A control variable –- which by definition is decided in the current period –- must have no lead. A predetermined variable –- which by definition has been decided in a previous period –- must have a lag. A consequence of this is that all stock variables must use the "stock at the end of the period" convention.

Leads and lags are primarily used for endogenous variables, but can be used for exogenous variables. They have no effect on parameters and are forbidden for local model variables (see Model declaration).

Outside the model

When used in an expression outside the model block, a parameter or a variable simply refers to the last value given to that variable. More precisely, for a parameter it refers to the value given in the corresponding parameter initialization (see param-init); for an endogenous or exogenous variable, it refers to the value given in the most recent initval or endval block.


The following operators are allowed in both MODEL_EXPRESSION and EXPRESSION:

  • Binary arithmetic operators: +, -, *, /, ^
  • Unary arithmetic operators: +, -
  • Binary comparison operators (which evaluate to either 0 or 1): <, >, <=, >=, ==, !=

Note the binary comparison operators are differentiable everywhere except on a line of the 2-dimensional real plane. However for facilitating convergence of Newton-type methods, Dynare assumes that, at the points of non-differentiability, the partial derivatives of these operators with respect to both arguments is equal to 0 (since this is the value of the partial derivatives everywhere else).

The following special operators are accepted in MODEL_EXPRESSION (but not in EXPRESSION):


This operator is used to take the value of the enclosed expression at the steady state. A typical usage is in the Taylor rule, where you may want to use the value of GDP at steady state to compute the output gap.

Exogenous and exogenous deterministic variables may not appear in MODEL_EXPRESSION.


The concept of a steady state is ambiguous in a perfect foresight context with permament and potentially anticipated shocks occuring. Dynare will use the contents of oo_.steady_state as its reference for calls to the STEADY_STATE()-operator. In the presence of endval, this implies that the terminal state provided by the user is used. This may be a steady state computed by Dynare (if endval is followed by steady) or simply the terminal state provided by the user (if endval is not followed by steady). Put differently, Dynare will not automatically compute the steady state conditional on the specificed value of the exogenous variables in the respective periods.


This operator is used to take the expectation of some expression using a different information set than the information available at current period. For example, EXPECTATION(-1)(x(+1)) is equal to the expected value of variable x at next period, using the information set available at the previous period. See aux-variables for an explanation of how this operator is handled internally and how this affects the output.


Built-in functions

The following standard functions are supported internally for both MODEL_EXPRESSION and EXPRESSION:

Function: exp(x)

Natural exponential.

Function: log(x)

Function: ln(x)

Natural logarithm.

Function: log10(x)

Base 10 logarithm.

Function: sqrt(x)

Square root.

Function: cbrt(x)

Cube root.

Function: sign(x)

Signum function, defined as:

\[\begin{aligned} \textrm{sign}(x) = \begin{cases} -1 &\quad\text{if }x<0\\ 0 &\quad\text{if }x=0\\ 1 &\quad\text{if }x>0 \end{cases} \end{aligned}\]

Note that this function is not continuous, hence not differentiable, at $x=0$. However, for facilitating convergence of Newton-type methods, Dynare assumes that the derivative at $x=0$ is equal to $0$. This assumption comes from the observation that both the right- and left-derivatives at this point exist and are equal to $0$, so we can remove the singularity by postulating that the derivative at $x=0$ is $0$.

Function: abs(x)

Absolute value.

Note that this continuous function is not differentiable at $x=0$. However, for facilitating convergence of Newton-type methods, Dynare assumes that the derivative at $x=0$ is equal to $0$ (even if the derivative does not exist). The rational for this mathematically unfounded definition, rely on the observation that the derivative of $\mathrm{abs}(x)$ is equal to $\mathrm{sign}(x)$ for any $x\neq 0$ in $\mathbb R$ and from the convention for the value of $\mathrm{sign}(x)$ at $x=0$).

Function: sin(x)

Function: cos(x)

Function: tan(x)

Function: asin(x)

Function: acos(x)

Function: atan(x)

Trigonometric functions.

Function: sinh(x)

Function: cosh(x)

Function: tanh(x)

Function: asinh(x)

Function: acosh(x)

Function: atanh(x)

Hyperbolic functions.

Function: max(a, b)

Function: min(a, b)

Maximum and minimum of two reals.

Note that these functions are differentiable everywhere except on a line of the 2-dimensional real plane defined by $a=b$. However for facilitating convergence of Newton-type methods, Dynare assumes that, at the points of non-differentiability, the partial derivative of these functions with respect to the first (resp. the second) argument is equal to $1$ (resp. to $0$) (i.e. the derivatives at the kink are equal to the derivatives observed on the half-plane where the function is equal to its first argument).

Function: normcdf(x)

Function: normcdf(x, mu, sigma)

Gaussian cumulative density function, with mean mu and standard deviation sigma. Note that normcdf(x) is equivalent to normcdf(x,0,1).

Function: normpdf(x) Function: normpdf(x, mu, sigma)

Gaussian probability density function, with mean mu and standard deviation sigma. Note that normpdf(x) is equivalent to normpdf(x,0,1).

Function: erf(x)

Gauss error function.

Function: erfc(x)

Complementary error function, i.e. $\mathrm{erfc}(x) = 1-\mathrm{erf}(x)$.

A few words of warning in stochastic context

The use of the following functions and operators is strongly discouraged in a stochastic context: max, min, abs, sign, <, >, <=, >=, ==, !=.

The reason is that the local approximation used by stoch_simul or estimation will by nature ignore the non-linearities introduced by these functions if the steady state is away from the kink. And, if the steady state is exactly at the kink, then the approximation will be bogus because the derivative of these functions at the kink is bogus (as explained in the respective documentations of these functions and operators).

Note that extended_path is not affected by this problem, because it does not rely on a local approximation of the mode.


  • 1A .mod file must have lines that end with a line feed character, which is not commonly visible in text editors. Files created on Windows and Unix-based systems have always conformed to this requirement, as have files created on OS X and macOS. Files created on old, pre-OS X Macs used carriage returns as end of line characters. If you get a Dynare parsing error of the form ERROR: <<mod file>>: line 1, cols 341-347: syntax error,... and there's more than one line in your .mod file, know that it uses the carriage return as an end of line character. To get more helpful error messages, the carriage returns should be changed to line feeds.
  • 2Note that arbitrary Julia expressions can be put in a .mod file, but those expressions have to be on separate lines, generally at the end of the file for post-processing purposes. They are not interpreted by Dynare, and are simply passed on unmodified to Julia. Those constructions are not addresses in this section.