while most practitioners recognize that this concept and notion are important, rigorous mathematical definitions and quantifications remain an unsolved problem.

In some validation applications, an opportunity exists to carry out additional experiments to improve the prediction uncertainty and/or the reliability of the prediction. 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). While the communication component is not fundamentally mathematical, effective communication may depend on mathematical aspects of the assessment.

The various tasks mentioned in the preceding paragraphs give a broad outline of validation and prediction. Exactly how these tasks are carried out depends on features of the specific application. The list below covers a number of important considerations that will have an impact on the methods and approaches for carrying out validation and prediction:

•  The amount and relevance of the available physical observations for the assessment,

•  The accuracy and uncertainty accompanying the physical observations,

•  The complexity of the physical system being modeled,

•  The degree of extrapolation required for the prediction relative to the available physical observations and the level of empiricism encoded in the model,

•  The computational demands (run time, computing infrastructure) of the computational model,

•  The accuracy of the computational model’s solution relative to that of the mathematical model (numerical error),

•  The accuracy of the computational model’s solution relative to that of the true, physical system (model discrepancy),

•  The existence of model parameters that require calibration using the available physical observations, and

•  The availability of alternative computational models to assess the impact of different modeling schemes or physics implementations on the prediction.

These considerations are discussed throughout this chapter, which describes key mathematical issues associated with validation and prediction, surveying approaches for constraining and estimating different sources of prediction uncertainty. Specifically, the chapter briefly describes issues regarding measurement uncertainty (Section 5.2), model calibration and parameter estimation (Section 5.3), model discrepancy (Section 5.4), and the quality of predictions (Section 5.5), focusing on their impact on prediction uncertainty. These concepts are illuminated by two simple examples (Boxes 5.1 and 5.2) that extend the ball-drop example in Chapter 1, and by two case studies (Sections 5.6 and 5.9). Leveraging multiple computational models (Section 5.7) and multiple sources of physical observations (Section 5.8) is also covered, as is the use of computational models for aid in dealing with rare, high-consequence events (Section 5.10). The chapter concludes with a discussion of promising research directions to help address open problems.

5.1.1 Note Regarding Methodology

Most of the examples and case studies presented in this chapter use Bayesian methods (Gelman et al., 1996) to incorporate the various forms of uncertainty that contribute to the prediction uncertainty. Bayesian methods require a prior description of uncertainty for the uncertain components in a formulation. The resulting estimates of uncertainty—for parameters, model discrepancy, and predictions—will depend on the physical observations and the details of the model formulation, including the prior specification. This report does not go into such details but points to references on modeling and model checking from a Bayesian perspective (Gelman et al., 1996; Gelfand and Ghosh, 1998). While the Bayesian approach is prevalent in the VVUQ literature, effectively dealing with many



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement