ITLApplied  Computational Mathematics Division
ACMD Seminar Series
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An underpinning numerical software environment for metrology?

Ian Reid
The Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG) Limited\\ Wilkinson House, Jordan Hill Road, OXFORD\\

Friday, August 15, 2003 11:00-12:00,
Lecture Room C in Building 101 (NIST Admin)
Friday, August 15, 2003 09:00-10:00,
Room 4550

Abstract: Metrologists should not have to be concerned about the quality and accuracy of their underlying numerical software. Of course, as with any calculation, one should have an estimate of the answer, but there should be no need to check that the software is working to the accuracy claimed. However, some excellent work at NPL in "Testing Spreadsheet and Other Packages Used in Metrology" as part of the Software Support for Metrology (SSfM) programme, demonstrated that some of the tools in common use within Metrology and other disciplines are lacking in several areas with regard to accuracy. This, of course, is and should be of great concern to those using these tools and relying on their results. One approach to this problem would be to have a central body work to validate each environment used by Metrologists and to warn of areas (environments, or specific parts of environments) to be avoided. Given limited resources, it would make sense to reduce the number of environments which are validated. Some extremely valuable work in this area is on-going under the Validation and Testing theme of the SSfM-2 programme. The METROlogy Software environment might be seen as an embodiment of this approach. METROS is a web-based delivery platform designed to give metrologists access to the numerical software they need to solve their problems, with a level of validation associated with each solution. This talk will expose the philosophy behind METROS and the progress towards its implementation. Another approach would be to validate a set of components which could be called from a range of common environments. This approach would significantly reduce the amount of validation required, whilst allowing the Metrologists to remain within their familiar/favoured environments. This approach is being championed by the Centre for Mathematics and Scientific Computing (CMSC) at NPL. The components chosen for this approach are those available as the NAG Libraries. This talk will look briefly at some of the problems uncovered within the SSfM programme and look at the reasons why NPL, along with a whole range of major research communities, commercial clients and independent software vendors have turned to NAG to provide numerical and statistical software components.
Contact: A. J. Kearsley

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