INFORMS NEWS: Roundtable meeting focuses on ‘uncertainty quantification’

Colter Bay Village Marina on Jackson Lake.  Photo by Kathy Lange

Colter Bay Village Marina on Jackson Lake. Photo by Kathy Lange

The 2015 INFORMS Roundtable Summer Meeting was held July 19-20 in the Grand Teton National Park, at Jackson Lake Lodge, Jackson Hole, Wyo. “Uncertainty Quantification” (UQ) was the meeting theme.

UQ, a very active area of research today, includes uncertainty characterization and uncertainty propagation. The Roundtable invited five leading UQ researchers to give an overview of UQ with a focus on applications.

Professor Ralph Smith, North Carolina State University, Department of Mathematics, spoke on the “Role of Uncertainty Quantification in Predictive Models.” Smith is the author of the recent SIAM book, “Uncertainty Quantification: Theory, Implementation and Applications.”

Professor Shane Reese, Brigham Young University, Department of Statistics, presented a tutorial on “Quantifying Uncertainty.” He discussed use of Bayesian methods in high throughput manufacturing and material science alloy formations.

Professor Alyson Wilson, North Carolina State University, Department of Statistics, then spoke on “Combining Information for Uncertainty Quantification.” She described the benefits of using statistical methods to combine multiple sources of information to assess systems and quantify uncertainty.

The Monday afternoon session consisted of presentations by two prominent experts in numerical methods for propagating uncertainty. Professor Roger Ghanem, University of Southern California, Departments of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering, discussed “Uncertainty Quantification for Complex Systems.” Ghanem described UQ as being about “making and winning bets.” Risk comes from uncertainty and can be mitigated by reducing uncertainty. How to price recovery from complex accidents such as Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and how to price future offshore drilling operations were two examples he discussed.

The final speaker was Professor Dongbin Xiu, University of Utah, Department of Mathematics and Scientific and Computing Institute. Professor Xiu spoke on the “State-of-the-Art in Uncertainty Quantification Algorithms.” An example of one of the algorithms he described is the Generalized Polynomial Chaos Method, which provides an orthogonal polynomial surrogate and allows for high accuracy numerical calculations for uncertainty propagation.

The meeting concluded with a session in which the five speakers provided additional comments and answered questions from the attendees.

The traditional Roundtable Sunday afternoon network outing was a boat cruise on Jackson Lake. A highlight of the cruise was a view of a bald eagle nest, at the base of Mt. Moran, with two eaglets ready to fledge.