Software models have become one of the major tools used in the design of complex military systems. Unfortunately, such systems have a tremendous number of design variables and other factors that can affect predictive accuracy. Models are often simplified, based on certain assumptions—and as a result, contain many uncertainties that can interact and degrade the accuracy of the design predictions.
Engineers typically support design software with thorough testing of prototype designs, although this leads to the repetitive process of designing, testing, verifying, re-designing, re-testing, re-verifying, and so forth. In the process, development times and costs start to add up. DARPA has established its Enabling Quantification of Uncertainty in Physical Systems (EQUiPS) program to develop mathematical tools and methods to tackle the challenges associated with large systems of many variables, as well as to account for the uncertainty.
The DARPA EQUiPS program, which began in 2015, is advancing the field of uncertainty quantification (UQ). By applying better UQ tools, designers can better understand the risks involved in pursuing certain design challenges, and consequently pursue alternative design approaches that might lead to better results and shorter design times.
“With EQUiPS we’re drastically changing the way we model and simulate physical-world, engineered systems,” said Fariba Fahroo, DARPA program manager. “We aim to make UQ a tractable part of simulation and modeling, even for the most complex of design problems. And the mathematical tools we’re developing should apply widely in areas ranging from new aerospace structures to leading-edge integrated circuits.”