Don’t worry, this blog has nothing to do with politics. Instead I wanted to spend some time trying to understand the lessons that we as engineers can learn from the failure of the prediction community to successfully forecast the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. For me this was an important backstory to the 2016 campaign: the pre-election poll predictions were wrong by a significant enough margin that they completely failed to forecast the outcome of the election.
“What does this have do with engineering simulation?” I hear you ask. The answer, I think, is “a great deal.” CFD engineers, like psephologists*, are also interested in making predictions about the future. Whereas Silver and his peers use statistical inference (from opinion polls and other data sources) to try and predict how people will vote in an election, we use numerical models of physics to predict the future performance of a proposed product or design.Read more