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ODU and GMU Researchers Publish Study Exploring Challenges in Communicating Simulation Correctness

By Keith Pierce

Researchers at Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), in collaboration with George Mason University, published an article in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal, exploring challenges in conveying simulation correctness. With simulations continually receiving attention to support decisions and develop strategies in response to events such as the coronavirus pandemic, people frequently ask how they can be expected to trust findings obtained from a simulation.

Many factors play into the question of correctness and credibility. However, few people know how a simulation is expected to work, i.e., characteristics of how COVID-19 spreads, or how to properly interpret the outcomes.

The article (found at https://tinyurl.com/PLOS-ODU) examines the historical advancement of simulation credibility over the past six decades to highlight current challenges.

"We hope to raise awareness for current and future simulation practitioners, researchers and students, as well as the public, on how to effectively communicate credibility and assuage concerns," said lead author Christopher J. Lynch, a lead project scientist at VMASC.

COVID-19 raises continual questions about the usefulness of the myriad of simulations developed to raise awareness and inform policies and decisions. As many decisions are directly impacting the general public, such as stay-at-home orders, knowing characteristics for how simulations are deemed credible is a prime topic. The article presents areas for improving transparency and credibility.

"The ultimate goal is to transition to the production of wider ranges of simulations that are communicated clearly, intuitively and correctly to support a simulation's credibility," Lynch said.

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