United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Fundamental Theory of Scientific Computer Simulation Review (NUREG/KM-0006)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: July 2013
Date Published: November 2013

Prepared by:
Joshua Stephen Kaizer

Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

"How much work is required to trust the results of a scientific computer simulation when human lives are at stake?" For many, this question is purely academic. But for those dealing with high consequence simulations, such as the simulations performed to demonstrate the safety of a nuclear power plant, the question is very pertinent and answering it is the domain of scientific computer simulation review. While simulation review has been performed for many years, it is rarely seen as a field of study in its own right. Consequently, requirements are often developed for a specific simulation and a particular use. If either the simulation or the use changes, new requirements must developed. To help solve this problem, some fundamental theory of scientific computer simulation review is proposed. This fundamental theory included the generation of a basic vocabulary, a formalization of the concept of maturity, the creation of simulation component hierarchy, and the development of an assessment framework.

A basic vocabulary was generated to define the many common and important concepts used in simulation review. By focusing on review in general, the resulting vocabulary captures many of the ideas important to all simulation reviews and provides a better means of discussing the trustworthiness of their results. The concept of maturity was formalized into Maturity Theory. This theory provides a detailed analysis of maturity, which was used to better understand the tools available in simulation review. The Hierarchy of Scientific Computer Simulation Components was created to capture the various components of a generic simulation and define the relationships between those components. This Hierarchy provides a methodology which can be used to organize and represent many simulations. The Theoretical/Logical Maturity Assessment Framework for Scientific Computer Simulations was developed using the concepts from Maturity Theory and the Hierarchy. This framework provides a structure which establishes the boundaries of simulation review, highlights many of the assumptions of a simulation which need to be supported if the results of the simulation are to be trusted, and establishes a method for its continually evolution. By contributing this fundamental theory, these advancements better established the field scientific computer simulation review.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, December 03, 2013