Date of Award

Winter 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

Committee Director

C. Michael Overstreet

Committee Member

Steven J. Zeil

Committee Member

Irwin Levinstein

Committee Member

Roland R. Mielke


Simulation is used increasingly throughout research, development, and planning for many purposes. While model output is often the primary interest, insights gained through the simulation process can also be valuable. Insights can come from building and validating the model as well as analyzing its behaviors and output; however, much that could be informative may not be easily discernible through these existing traditional approaches, particularly as models continue to increase in complexity.

This research extends current work in model analysis and program understanding to assist modelers in obtaining more insight into their models and the systems they represent. A primary technique for model understanding is analysis of model output; this research has developed new, complementary techniques.

A significant point of this research is that the created tools do not necessitate that a modeler or model user be able to encode the model or have any coding expertise. Some of the information presented here could be produced by existing software development tools; however, most modelers today do not have the technical background to use such tools or to make use of the reports they can produce.

Additionally, one of the significant details of this research is the focus on model aspects rather than simulation aspects: the tools developed here detail the model embedded in implementation code, not the code necessary for implementation. Source code tends to involve many issues unrelated to the model itself, such as data collection, animation, and tricks for efficient run-time behavior. Even when the modeler is an expert programmer, this other code often can obscure features of the model as implemented.

Results indicate these tools and techniques, when applied to even modest simulation models, can reveal aspects of those models not readily apparent to the builders or users of the models. This work provides both model builders and model users with additional techniques that can give them improved understanding of their models.


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