Comparison with artificial galaxy models is essential for translating the incomplete and low signal-to-noise data we can obtain on astrophysical stellar populations to physical interpretations which describe their composition, physical properties, histories and internal conditions. In particular, this is true for distant galaxies, whose unresolved light embeds clues to their formations and evolutions, and their impacts on their wider environs. Stellar population synthesis models are now used as the foundation of analysis at all redshifts, but are not without their problems. Here we review the use of stellar population synthesis models, with a focus on applications in the distant Universe.
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