National Nuclear Security Administration

In the face of uncertainties, NNSA seeks verification and validation

June 13, 2019

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Dr. Mark Anderson presenting at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Verification and Validation Symposium
Slide from Dr. Anderson’s presentation, “Challenges for Practical Verification, Validation and Uncertainty Quantification”
A slide from Dr. Anderson’s presentation, “Challenges for Practical Verification, Validation and Uncertainty Quantification”

As our world becomes more and more dependent upon technology, the ability to confirm that our computational solutions can be trusted has reached a level of vital importance.

A code is only as good as the coder – that’s why it’s essential engineers and scientists from all disciplines regularly come together to discuss and exchange ideas that help mitigate potential risks associated with heavy reliance on computer modeling and simulation. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) offers one such opportunity.

Dr. Mark C. Anderson, Director for NNSA’s Office of Advanced Simulation and Computing and Institutional Research and Development Programs, served as a keynote speaker at this year’s ASME Verification and Validation Symposium in Las Vegas, Nevada May 15-17. He was joined by Valri Lightner, Acting Director of Advanced Manufacturing for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  

“Our confidence, once based on explosive nuclear tests, now must be founded on improved physics understanding incorporated into predictive simulations,” said Anderson during his presentation titled, “Challenges for Practical Verification, Validation and Uncertainty Quantification.”

Our confidence, once based on explosive nuclear tests, now must be founded on improved physics understanding incorporated into predictive simulations.

Dr. Mark C. Anderson
Director for NNSA’s Office of Advanced Simulation and Computing and Institutional Research and Development Programs

Dr. Anderson addressed the pervasive use of modeling and simulation in nuclear security and the various methods employed by experts to answer the question “Did we code the right thing?” Anderson also pointed out the issue of overly rigorous standards that can needlessly delay experiments. Scientists require confidence in their calculations, but they also must be able to move forward at a reasonable pace. Anderson referred to this as the “rigor threshold.”

Numerous other NNSA computing experts also attended the event. Kin Lam was one of many scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory to present. Lam’s talk was titled “Verification and Validation of X-ray Induced Blow-off Modeling.”

Dr. William Oberkampf, a distinguished retiree of Sandia National Laboratories, helped lead a two-day training course: “Verification and Validation in Scientific Computing.” This masterclass—aimed at computational analysts, code developers, experimentalists, and software engineers—follows a book of the same name, co-authored by Oberkampf.

ASME is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1880 that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing, career enrichment, and skills development across all engineering disciplines.

Visit NNSA’s website to learn more about how computational modeling and simulation help keep our Nation safe.