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Exploratory modeling uses computational experiments with computer models to inform questions of interest. Exploratory modeling is primarily useful for situations where insufficient information exists to build a veridical model of the system of interest. The problem of how to cleverly select the finite sample of models and cases to examine from the infinite set of possibilities is the central problem of exploratory modeling methodology. Thus, in exploratory modeling, rather than validate models, one must validate research strategies. This validation centers on three aspects of the analysis: the specification of an ensemble of models that will be the basis for exploration, the strategy for sampling from this ensemble, and the logic used to connect experimental results to study conclusions. The ability of researchers to achieve useful results in this paradigm can be greatly enhanced by the syntactic definition of compound computational experiments resulting in the automatic generation of large numbers of individual experiments, and tools supporting the visualization of these results.

Originally published in: Proceedings of the Conference on High Performance Computing, 1994, San Diego, Calif., pp. 382-387.

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