Preliminary design of a complex system often involves exploring a broad design space. This may require repeated use of computationally expensive simulations. To ease the computational burden, surrogate models are built to provide rapid approximations of more expensive models. However, the surrogate models themselves are often expensive to build because they are based on repeated experiments with computationally expensive simulations. An alternative approach is to replace the detailed simulations with simplified approximate simulations, thereby sacrificing accuracy for reduced computational time. Naturally, surrogate models built from these approximate simulations are also imprecise. A strategy is needed for improving the precision of surrogate models based on approximate simulations without significantly increasing computational time. In this paper, a new approach is taken to integrate data from approximate and detailed simulations to build a surrogate model that describes the relationship between output and input parameters. Experimental results from approximate simulations form the bulk of the data, and they are used to build a model based on a Gaussian process. The fitted model is then “adjusted” by incorporating a small amount of data from detailed simulations to obtain a more accurate prediction model. The effectiveness of this approach is demonstrated with a design example involving cellular materials for an electronics cooling application. The emphasis is on the method and not on the results per se.

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