Visual HPC Workflows for the Analysis of System Dynamics Models

Brian Bush, Danny Inman

Research output: NRELPresentation


Visual analytics supported by high performance computing (HPC) accelerates and enhances the discovery, exploration, and analysis of causal patterns in complex system dynamics (SD) models. We present a suite of visualization-assisted ensemble-based techniques for hypothesis generation and testing, and for sensitivity analysis. By employing HPC to provide parallel, on-demand simulation of SD models, one can “steer” an ensemble of simulated scenarios in real time as one first formulates and then informally tests those hypotheses: this provides rapid feedback for analysts to refine their understanding of the causal relationships emergent from a model. Such understandings can be followed and augmented by rigorous application of statistical methods, namely global variance-based sensitivity analysis, Monte-Carlo filtering, adaptive regional sensitivity analysis, and self-organized maps: here timely computation relies on HPC, while effective presentation emphasizes high-dimensional multivariate data visualization. Immersive visualization in virtual 3D environments provides an excellent adjunct to the traditional 2D graphics typically used for SD models, as it generates an embodied understanding of model behavior and facilitates an active, collaborative critique of model structure and output. Finally, we summarize prospects for HPC-enabled visual analytics applied to SD modeling.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2021 International System Dynamics Conference, 27 July 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-80539


  • high performance computing
  • sensitivity analysis
  • system dynamics
  • visualization


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