What is Validation of Computer Simulations? Toward a Clarification of the Concept of Validation and of Related Notions

  • Claus BeisbartEmail author
Part of the Simulation Foundations, Methods and Applications book series (SFMA)


This chapter clarifies the concept of validation of computer simulations by comparing various definitions that have been proposed for the notion. While the definitions agree in taking validation to be an evaluation, they differ on the following questions: (1) What exactly is evaluated—results from a computer simulation, a model, a computer code? (2) What are the standards of evaluation––truth, accuracy, and credibility or also something else? (3) What type of verdict does validation lead to––that the simulation is such and such good, or that it passes a test defined by a certain threshold? (4) How strong needs the case to be for the verdict? (5) Does validation necessarily proceed by comparing simulation outputs with measured data? Along with these questions, the chapter explains notions that figure prominently in them, e.g., the concepts of accuracy and credibility. It further discusses natural answers to the questions as well as arguments that speak in favor and against these answers. The aim is to obtain a better understanding of the options we have for defining validation and how they are related to each other.


Evaluation Model Code Truth Accuracy Credibility Adequate representation Adequacy for purpose Explanation Data-driven validation Test 



I am extremely grateful for extensive comments by William Oberkampf, Patrick Roache, and Nicole J. Saam. At a very different level, I wish to express my thanks to my mother, Bärbel Beisbart, who sadly passed away during the time when I was working on this chapter. I dedicate this chapter to her memory.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BernBernSwitzerland

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