MS Thesis Presentation by Richard J. Malak Jr.
Tuesday, July 6, 2004

(Dr. Christiaan J. J. Paredis, Chair)

"A Framework for Validating Reusable Behavioral Models in Engineering Design"


Designers commonly use computer-based modeling and simulation methods to predict artifact behavior. Such predictions are central to engineering decision making. As such, determining how well they correspond to the actual artifact behavior—that is, performing model validation—is a problem of critical importance.

Prior works take an integrated approach to validation in which model creators and model users interact throughout the modeling and simulation process. Although effective for many problems, this type of approach is not appropriate in the domain of engineering design. Recent advances in technology make it easier for designers to apply existing behavioral models in new situations and to share them with other designers. Although reuse allows designers to make predictions more quickly, it complicates validation by separating the processes of creation and use. This is particularly problematic when the model user is not able to interact with its creator. Model users need to understand the limitations of a model in order to validate its use. Furthermore, they must be able to do so easily in order to maintain the benefits of model reuse.

Presented in this thesis is a framework for validating reusable behavioral models for engineering design problems. This framework solves the problem of creator-user separation by defining specific validation responsibilities for each and an interface by which they communicate. This interface consists of a formal description of the model’s limitations and the domain over which these limitations are known to be true. Practical issues are explored through basic engineering examples.