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The activity on uncertainty quantification at CERFACS aims to estimate uncertainties in computational models requiring large computational resources.  We consider applications related to environmental risk, data assimilation and optimization in a high performance computing context.

The principal actions are:

  • Ensemble experimental design for calibration of uncertain model parameters
  • Development cost-effective Surrogate Model methodologies for computationally intensive problems
  • Sensitivity analysis, optimization and data assimilation
  • Development of efficient algorithms for stochastic parameter estimation

These actions are implemented for the following applications:

  • Surrogates for high dimensional problems in hydraulics and aerodynamics.
  • Efficient, scalable and resilient domain decomposition algorithms for exascale computing
  • Surrogate models for large-eddy simulations of pollution dispersion in the atmospheric boundary layer
  • Developing Multifidelity-MLMC algorithms for industrial CFD, multidisciplinary systems and geosciences.
  • Building simple climate models to explore data constraints on climate projections


Models are approximations of systems.  Confidence in model simulations requires an understanding of their uncertainties.

Uncertainties are generally classified according to their nature. There are several sources of error:

  • errors related to simplifications of equations (dimensional reduction, empirical parameterization)
  • errors related to the numerical schemes
  • errors related to spatio-temporal discretization.

Models must be supplemented by data and parameters that describe the system, initial conditions and its boundary conditions. The physical parameters govern the  laws of the system – and sometimes, these data and parameters are only partially and approximately observed and known.

Errors can be further classified into two groups :

  • Epistemic errors linked to a lack of knowledge of system processes
  • Random errors linked to the stochastic nature of the system

Our aim is to understand and quantify the extent to which epistemic and random uncertainties affect the model response.  At CERFACS, we develop a suite of tools to better understand this propagation of uncertainty.

  • Multi-fidelity Monte-Carlo methods to allow the efficient estimation of probabilistic parameter distributions for industrial and geoscience applications
  • Novel surrogate models to allow rapid exploration of parameter response in global climate and CFD problems.
  • Risk assessment tools bridging scales for climate impacts, connecting global uncertainties to local impacts.


At CERFACS, these activity are transversal, with applications ranging from flood forecasting to wildland fire propagation, climate projection uncertainty and combustion chamber ignition models.


  • EDF
  • IRT
  • CMAP
  • Inria


Safran R&T prize

CERFACS |  6 January 2023

Congratulations to Thibault Duranton for his award for the best presentation in 180s, in the Aerodynamics and Combustion category, at the Safran AE R&T Day on January 5, 2023, for his thesis entitled "Advanced modeling of multi-perforated plates for large-scale simulations of new-generation aircraft engines".Read more

Happy New Year 2023!

Brigitte Yzel |  6 January 2023

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