Validating system model

This more complicated formulation can also produce predictions for system behavior in new domains where no physical observations are available (see Bayarri et al., 2007a; Wang et al., 2009; or the case studies of this chapter).

Assessing prediction uncertainty is crucial for both validation (which involves comparison with measured data) and prediction of yet-unmeasured QOIs.

The basic process includes identifying and representing key sources of uncertainty; identifying physical observations; experiments, or other information sources for the assessment; assessing prediction uncertainty; assessing the reliability or quality of the prediction; supplying information on how to improve the assessment; and communicating results.

Identifying and representing uncertainties typically involves sensitivity analysis to determine which features or inputs of the model affect key model outputs.

Once they are identified, one must determine how best to represent these important contributors to uncertainty—parametric representations of input conditions, forcings, or physical modeling schemes (e.g., turbulent mixing of fluids).

Estimating prediction uncertainty is a vibrant research topic whose methods vary depending on the features of the problem at hand.

Estimating how different forms of additional information would improve predictions or the validation assessment can be an important component of the validation effort, guiding decisions about where to invest resources in order to maximize the reduction of uncertainty and/ or an increase in reliability.

Communicating the results of the prediction or validation assessment includes both quantitative aspects (the predicted QOI and its uncertainty) and qualitative aspects (the strength of the assumptions on which the assessment is based).

Here the concept of “nearness” of the physical observations to the predictions of the intended use of the model becomes relevant, as does the notion of the domain of applicability for the prediction.

However, FIGURE 5.1 Daily maximum temperatures for Norman, Oklahoma (left), and histograms of next-day prediction errors (right) using two prediction models.

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