The Validation of Computer-based Models in Engineering: Some Lessons from Computing Science

D. J. Murray-Smith


Questions of the quality of computer-based models and the formal processes of model testing, involving internal verification and external validation, are usually given only passing attention in engineering reports and in technical publications. However, such models frequently provide a basis for analysis methods, design calculations or real-time decision-making in complex engineering systems. This paper reviews techniques used for external validation of computer-based models and contrasts the somewhat casual approach which is usually adopted in this field with the more formal approaches to software testing and documentation recommended for large software projects. Both activities require intimate knowledge of the intended application, a systematic approach and considerable expertise and ingenuity in the design of tests. It is concluded that engineering degree courses dealing with modelling techniques and computer simulation should put more emphasis on model limitations, testing and validation.


computer-based models; simulation; model limitations; software testing; external validation; software engineering tools

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague