The Removal of Numerical Drift from Scientific Models

John Collins, Brian Farrimond, David Flower, Mark Anderson, David Gill

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Computer programs often behave differently under different compilers or in different computing environments. Relative debugging is a collection of techniques by which these differences are analysed. Differences may arise because of different interpretations of errors in the code, because of bugs in the compilers or because of numerical drift, and all of these were observed in the present study. Numerical drift arises when small and acceptable differences in values computed by different systems are integrated, so that the results drift apart. This is well understood and need not degrade the validity of the program results. Coding errors and compiler bugs may degrade the results and should be removed. This paper describes a technique for the comparison of two program runs which removes numerical drift and therefore exposes coding and compiler errors. The procedure is highly automated and requires very little intervention by the user. The technique is applied to the Weather Research and Forecasting model, the most widely used weather and climate modelling code.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
JournalInternational Journal of Software Engineering and Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
EventAustralasian Software Engineering Conference - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 1 Mar 2013 → …


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