The Method of Manufactured Universes for Testing Uncertainty Quantification Methods
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The Method of Manufactured Universes is presented as a validation framework for uncertainty quantification (UQ) methodologies and as a tool for exploring the effects of statistical and modeling assumptions embedded in these methods. The framework calls for a manufactured reality from which "experimental" data are created (possibly with experimental error), an imperfect model (with uncertain inputs) from which simulation results are created (possibly with numerical error), the application of a system for quantifying uncertainties in model predictions, and an assessment of how accurately those uncertainties are quantified. The application presented for this research manufactures a particle-transport "universe," models it using diffusion theory with uncertain material parameters, and applies both Gaussian process and Bayesian MARS algorithms to make quantitative predictions about new "experiments" within the manufactured reality. To test further the responses of these UQ methods, we conduct exercises with "experimental" replicates, "measurement" error, and choices of physical inputs that reduce the accuracy of the diffusion model's approximation of our manufactured laws. Our first application of MMU was rich in areas for exploration and highly informative. In the case of the Gaussian process code, we found that the fundamental statistical formulation was not appropriate for our functional data, but that the code allows a knowledgable user to vary parameters within this formulation to tailor its behavior for a specific problem. The Bayesian MARS formulation was a more natural emulator given our manufactured laws, and we used the MMU framework to develop further a calibration method and to characterize the diffusion model discrepancy. Overall, we conclude that an MMU exercise with a properly designed universe (that is, one that is an adequate representation of some real-world problem) will provide the modeler with an added understanding of the interaction between a given UQ method and his/her more complex problem of interest. The modeler can then apply this added understanding and make more informed predictive statements.
Stripling, Hayes Franklin (2010). The Method of Manufactured Universes for Testing Uncertainty Quantification Methods. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from