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Error, Confidence, and Cost in Engineering Computations

Sen, SK (2004) Error, Confidence, and Cost in Engineering Computations. In: Fourth International Conference on Dynamic Systems and Applications, May 21-24, 2003, Atlanta, GA, USA.

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The questions that one should answer in engineering computations - deterministic, probabilistic/randomized, as well as heuristic - are (i) how good the computed results/outputs are and (ii) how much the cost in terms of amount of computation and the amount of storage utilized in getting the outputs is. The absolutely errorfree quantities as well as the completely errorless computations done in a natural process can never be captured by any means that we have at our disposal. While the computations including the input real quantities in nature/natural processes are exact, all the computations that we do using a digital computer or are carried out in an embedded form are never exact. The input data for such computations are also never exact because any measuring instrument has inherent error of a fixed order associated with it and this error, as a matter of hypothesis and not as a matter of assumption, is not less than 0.005 per cent. Here by error we imply relative error bounds. The fact that exact error is never known under any circumstances and any context implies that the term error is nothing but error-bounds. Further, in engineering computations, it is the relative error or, equivalently, the relative error-bounds (and not the absolute error) which is supremely important in providing us the information regarding the quality of the results/outputs. Another important fact is that inconsistency and/or near-consistency in nature, i.e., in problems created from nature is completely nonexistent while in our modelling of the natural problems we may introduce inconsistency or near-inconsistency due to human error or due to inherent non-removable error associated with any measuring device or due to assumptions introduced to make the problem solvable or more easily solvable in practice. Thus if we discover any inconsistency or possibly any near-inconsistency in a mathematical model, it is certainly due to any or all of the three foregoing factors. We do, however, go ahead to solve such inconsistent/near-consistent problems and do get results that could be useful in real-world situations. The talk considers several deterministic, probabilistic, and heuristic algorithms in numerical optimisation, other numerical and statistical computations, and in PAC (probably approximately correct) learning models. It highlights the quality of the results/outputs through specifying relative error-bounds along with the associated confidence level, and the cost, viz., amount of computations and that of storage through complexity. It points out the limitation in error-free computations (wherever possible, i.e., where the number of arithmetic operations is finite and is known a priori) as well as in the usage of interval arithmetic. Further, the interdependence among the error, the confidence, and the cost is discussed.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Publisher: Dynamic Publishers
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Dynamic Publishers.
Department/Centre: Division of Interdisciplinary Sciences > Supercomputer Education & Research Centre
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2012 07:36
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2012 07:36
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/43761

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