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The faults with default

The faults with default

Gwynne, S.M.V. and Kuligowski, E.D. (2010) The faults with default. In: Interflam 2010: 12th International Fire Science & Engineering Conference. Interscience Communications, Greenwich, London, UK, pp. 1473-1478. ISBN 9780954121655

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Any computer model is merely a representation of reality that involves a combination of the model’s representation of current theory, user’s knowledge, and engineering judgment. When employing sophisticated simulation tools, the user is required to provide input data to the model, select between embedded data-sets, select between scenario or behavioral settings, and/or rely on hardwired data. Depending on the model, the user is frequently tasked with providing information on occupant response (movement and behavior) that allows the simulation tool to operate and results to be generated. This requires a significant amount of expertise on the part of the model user and during model development. Critically, it requires an understanding of the implications of using and employing this data.

This paper discusses model defaults, their use, and the consequences of their use on engineering results. A default setting is an initial setting provided by a developer that enables the model to be used without the modification of model settings and/or the provision of new data. Defaults are often provided as shortcuts to configuring an evacuation model because they allow the user to run the model and familiarize themselves with the model’s functionality without understanding all of the model’s capabilities. In reality, the vast majority of software programs (including engineering models) require defaults to prevent the model from initially being difficult to use and to provide some guidance on parameter selections. This is reasonable and expected. However, in scientific or engineering models, the selection (and the associated description) of the default settings can have a significant impact on the results produced. This is particularly the case in a relatively immature field(s) such as egress modeling and human behavior in fire.

There are both positive and negative aspects of providing defaults in current evacuation models. Default values or parameters can prove useful in the simulation of certain (basic) scenarios that are commonplace and/or similar to those from which the default data/understanding was collected 1,2 , especially given the lack of an overarching theory. Conversely, the use of default values or parameters can provide the user with ready-made input that may not be relevant to the scenario being modeled and/or provide a ready-made scenario that precludes the user from understanding the input and the results produced.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Title of Proceedings: Interflam 2010: 12th International Fire Science & Engineering Conference
Additional Information: [1] This poster was presented at Interflam 2010,the 12th International Fire Science & Engineering Conference, held from 5-7 July 2010 at the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. The poster was given within the Human Behaviour: Evacuation and Egress section. [2] ISBN: 9780954121655 (Vol 1); 9780955654879 (Vols 1& 2, CD ROM)
Uncontrolled Keywords: computer capabilities, defaults
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences
School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences > Centre for Numerical Modelling & Process Analysis > Fire Safety Engineering Group
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:26

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