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Roland Ewald (2011)

Automatic Algorithm Selection for Complex Simulation Problems

PhD thesis, Faculty of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, University of Rostock, Vieweg+Teubner.

To select the most suitable simulation algorithm for a given task is often difficult. This is due to intricate interactions between model features, implementation details, and runtime environment, which may strongly affect the overall performance. An automated selection of simulation algorithms supports users in setting up simulation experiments, without demanding expert knowledge on simulation. The first part of the thesis surveys existing approaches to solve the algorithm selection problem and discusses techniques to analyze simulation algorithm performance. A unified categorization of existing algorithm selection techniques is worked out, as these stem from various research domains (e.g., finance, artificial intelligence). The second part introduces a software framework for automatic simulation algorithm selection and describes its constituents, as well as their integration into the modeling and simulation framework JAMES II. The implemented selection mechanisms are able to cope with three situations: a) no prior knowledge is available, b) the impact of problem features on performance is unknown, and c) a relationship between problem features and algorithm performance can be established empirically. An experimental evaluation of the developed methods concludes the thesis. It is shown that an automated algorithm selection may significantly increase the overall performance of a simulation system. Some of the presented mechanisms also support the research on simulation methods, as they facilitate their development and evaluation.