## Applications of Interval Computations: General

### Data Processing

One of the main functions of a computer is crunching numbers, or, to use a more fancy term, data processing. This data comes either from measurements, or from expert estimates, or from the results of the previous processing. Expert estimates are often very important, but a computer can easily crunch (and does crunch) thousands and millions numbers per second. There is not enough experts in the world to supply that many expert estimates. Therefore, the majority of data processing algorithms do not use expert estimates at all: they either directly process the results of the measurements, or process the results of pre-processing these results. In the second case, we can consider the entire chain of processors starting from the sensors and eventually producing the desired result as one huge data processing algorithm. So, in the majority of cases, data processing processes the results of measurements.

### Why Do We Process Data At All?

• First of all, we want to know the world that we live it. In particular, we want to know the characteristics of the physical quantities that characterize this world. In a few cases, we can simply measure them (e.g., body temperature, or weight). But for more complicated characteristics, like an amount of oil in the well, or a distance to a star, there is no way to measure them directly. So, we measure what we can and then, from the results of these measurements, we try to reconstruct the desired value.
• Second, we want to change this world: we want to control the objects that already exist, or to change them, or even to create (synthesize) new objects.

### Main Problem

And here comes the problem. Measurements are never absolutely precise. The result x of measuring a physical quantity x (e.g., temperature) may differ from the actual value of that quantity. E.g., if you have weighed yourself, and the result is 125 pounds, this does not mean that you weight equals exactly 125. If the scales have an accuracy +/-2, then the actual weight can be any number from 123(=125-2) to 127=(125+2).

So, the data that we process are not absolutely precise. This inaccuracy leads to the inaccuracy in the result of data processing. The problem is to estimate the resulting inaccuracy.

If we do not know this accuracy, then the result of data processing is of little practical use: e.g., suppose that we estimated that a given location contains 100 million tons of oil, but we do not know the accuracy of this estimate. Then, if this is 100+/-5, this location is worth developing, but if it is 100+/-100, then we need further analysis to decide what to do.

### In Many Cases, We Know Probabilities Of Errors

In many cases, the manufacturer of a measuring instrument provides us with the probabilities of different values of a measurement error. For such cases, there exist numerous methods that compute statistical characteristics of the resulting error.
• W. A. Fuller, Measurement error models, J. Wiley & Sons, New York, 1987.
• H. M. Wadsworth, Jr (editor). Handbook of statistical methods for engineers and scientists, McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., N.Y., 1990.

### In Many Cases, We Do Not Know Probabilities

In many other cases, however, the values of the probabilities are not known. Instead, the manufacturer provides us with the guaranteed accuracy D, i.e., with a guaranteed upper bound of the error d=x-x (e.g., ``error cannot exceed 0.1''). If our measurement results is x, then the possible values of x=x-d form an interval [x-D,x+D].

#### Historical comment.

The first person to describe intervals as a result of measurement was Norbert Wiener: in 1914, he applied intervals to measuring distances, and in 1921, to measuring time.
N. Wiener, ``A contribution to the theory of relative position'', Proc. Cambridge Philos. Soc., 1914, Vol. 17, pp. 441-449.

N. Wiener, ``A new theory of measurement: a study in the logic of mathematics'', Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, 1921.

Since we are dealing with intervals, the entire area is called interval computations.

In this case, our problem takes the following form:

### Main Problem (In Case We Do Not Know Probabilities)

Suppose that we are interested in the value of a physical quantity y that is difficult or impossible to measure directly. To find the value of y, we measure several other quantities x1,...,xn that are related to y, and then we reconstruct the value of y from the results xi of measuring xi. In other words, we have an algorithm f that takes the values xi and returns an estimate y=f(x1,...,xn)
(this estimate is called the result of indirect measurement).

In some cases, this algorithm consists of simply applying known formulas to xi. In other cases, this algorithm implements a numerical method for solving a system of equations that connect xi and y. These equations can be algebraic, differential, integral, etc, and the resulting algorithm can be pretty complicated.

The problem is to estimate the error of the estimate y:

We know:

• n intervals xi=[xi-Di,xi+Di] and
• an algorithm f that transforms n real numbers x1,...,xn into a real number y=f(x1,...,xn).
We are interested in: estimating the interval y = f(x1,...,xn) of possible values of y = f(x1,...,xn) when xi is in [xi-Di, xi+Di].

This is the basic problem of interval computations with which the entire area started; see, e.g., early papers on interval computations (see also) including:

• R. E. Moore, Automatic error analysis in digital computation, Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. Technical Report LMSD-48421, Palo Alto, CA, 1959.
• R. E. Moore, C. T. Yang, Interval analysis, Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. Technical Report LMSD-285875, Palo Alto, CA, 1959.
• R. E. Moore, "The automatic analysis and control of error in digital computation based on the use of interval numbers", In: L. B. Rall (ed.), Error in Digital Computation. Proceedings of an Advanced Seminar Conducted by the Mathematics Research Center, U.S. Army, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 5-7, 1964, Vol. 1, John Wiley, N. Y., 1964, pp. 61-130.
• R. E. Moore, Interval Analysis, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1966.

### Where Does This Main Problem Fit In Traditional Mathematics

• For many algorithms f, methods of estimating the accuracy of the result y have been developed in numerical mathematics. These methods often produce the exact error bounds.
• Numerical mathematics does not always give us the solution to our problem. Error estimation methods of numerical mathematics are often very complicated, and require difficult mathematical techniques. Because of that, algorithms f for which such methods are known form a small subset in the set of all algorithms that are used for data processing. New data processing problems appear every day, and new data processing algorithms are being designed to solve these problems. For a new data processing algorithm, for a reasonable period of time, no error estimation method is known. To handle these algorithms, we need a general tool that would, given f, xi, and Di, automatically estimate the error bound for y.
• Problems that appear when we do not know the exact distribution, but we know instead that a distribution belongs to a given class P of distributions, are called problems of robust statistics.
• P. J. Huber, Robust statistics, Wiley, N.Y., 1981.
So, from statistical viewpoint, interval computations is a particular case of robust statistics, in which P is the class of all distributions located on a given interval.
• Robust statistics does not always give us the solution to our problem because robust methods have been developed only for some functions f.
• The case when instead of a number, we have an interval (or, more generally, a set) of possible values, has been developed in mathematics under the name of set-valued analysis
• J.-P. Aubin, A. Cellina, Differential inclusions, Spinger-Verlag, Grundlehren der math. Wiss., Vol. 264, 1984.
• J.-P. Aubin, H. Frankowska, Set-valued analysis, Birkhauser, Boston, MA, 1990.
In particular, differential equations with the uncertain (set-valued) right-hand side (called differential inclusions) are used, e.g., in control problems.
• Set-valued analysis does not always give us the solution to our problem because its methods have been developed only for specific f, e.g., when f is a solution of a differential or an integral equation of a certain type.

### A Brief History of Interval Computations

• It started here, in the US.
• The main ideas of Interval Computations appeared in the USA, in the Ph.D. Dissertation of R. E. Moore that was defended at Stanford in 1962. The first application of interval computation was presented by R. E. Moore in 1959. The first monograph, also by R. E. Moore, appeared in the USA in 1966.
• Moved to Europe.
• Later, the center of interval computations moved to Europe, mainly to Germany. One of the reasons was that in the US, manufacturers were, in average, less cost-conscious, and they were thus less worried about inaccuracy of sensors: ``if a sensor is not good enough, let's spend some more money and buy a better one''. The main users of this techniques were scientists, for whom this solution did not work, because they were working at the cutting edge of accuracy, and they were already using the best possible sensors to measure their micro-quantities.
• As a result, Interval Computations is not widely known in the US, while in Germany, it is a part of the standard qualifying exam for several areas of Numerical Mathematics. Germany was the place where the first specialized journal appeared. Germany still hosts regular conferences in interval computations.
• A recent outburst of activity
• Recently, there has been an outburst of activity in the USA and internationally, related to Interval Computations:
• A new international journal Interval Computation has been launched in 1991 (starting from 1995, it is issued under the new title Reliable Computing).
• In 1993, a well-represented International Conference on Interval Computations was held in Lafayette, LA.
• In 1995, an International Workshop on Applications of Interval Computations was held in El Paso, Texas.

### Applications

Numerous applications of interval computations are described in the Proceedings of the International Workshop on Applications of Interval Computations, held in El Paso, Texas, on February 23-25.