Active Nonlinear Tests (ANTs) of Complex Simulation Models

  • Miller J
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Abstract

S imulation models are becoming increasingly common in the analysis of critical scientific, policy, and management issues. Such models provide a way to analyze complex systems characterized by both large parameter spaces and nonlinear interactions. Unfortunately, these same characteristics make understanding such models using traditional testing techniques ex- tremely difficult. Here we show how a model's structure and robustness can be validated via a simple, automatic, nonlinear search algorithm designed to actively "break" the model's impli- cations. Using the active nonlinear tests (ANTs) developed here, one can easily probe for key weaknesses in a simulation's structure, and thereby begin to improve and refine its design. We demonstrate ANTs by testing a well-known model of global dynamics (World3), and show how this technique can be used to uncover small, but powerful, nonlinear effects that may highlight vulnerabilities in the original model.

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Authors

  • John H. Miller

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