Automated Sequential Steady-State Simulation
Jong-Suk Ruth Lee
Department of Computer Science
University of Canterbury
The credibility of the final results from stochastic simulation has had limited discussion in the simulation literature so far. However, it is important that the final results from any simulations be credible. To achieve this, validation, which determines whether the conceptual simulation model is an accurate representation of the system under study, has to be done carefully. Additionally, a proper statistical analysis of simulation output data, including a confidence interval or other assessment of statistical errors, has to be conducted before any valid inferences or conclusions about the performance of simulated dynamic systems, such as for example telecommunication networks, are made.
There are many other issues, such as choice of a good pseudo-random number generator, elimination of initialisation bias in steady-state simulations, and consideration of autocorrelations in collected observations, which have to be appropriately addressed for the final results to be credible. However, many of these issues are not trivial, particularly for simulation users who may not be experts in these areas.
As a consequence, a fully-automated simulation package, which can control all important aspects of stochastic simulation, is needed. This dissertation focuses on the following contributions to such a package for steady-state simulation: properties of confidence intervals (CIs) used in coverage analysis, heuristic rules for improving the coverage of the final CIs in practical applications, automated sequential analysis of mean values by the method of regenerative cycles, automatic detection of the initial transient period for steady-state quantile estimation, and sequential steady-state quantile estimation with the automated detection of the length of initial transient period.
One difficulty in obtaining precise estimates of a system using stochastic simulation can be the cost of the computing time needed to collect the large amount of output data required. Indeed there are situations, such as estimation of rare events, where, even assuming an appropriate statistical analysis procedure is available, the cost of collecting the number of observations needed by the analysis procedure can be prohibitively large. Fortunately, inexpensive computer network resources enable computationally intensive simulations by allowing us to run parallel and distributed simulations. Therefore, where possible, we extend the contributions to the distributed stochastic simulation scenario known as the Multiple Replications In Parallel (MRIP), in which multiple processors run their own independent replications of the simulated system but cooperate with central analysers that collect data to estimate the final results.