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In this paper we investigate the continuum limits of a class of Markov chains. The investigation of such limits is motivated by the desire to model very large networks. We show that under some conditions, a sequence of Markov chains converges in some sense to the solution of a partial differential equation. Based on such convergence we approximate Markov chains modeling networks involving a large number of components by partial differential equations. While traditional numerical simulation for very large networks is practically infeasible, partial differential equations can be solved with reasonable computational overhead using well-established mathematical tools.