It is now commonplace for engineers to build mathematical models of the systems they are designing, building, or testing. And, it is nearly universally accepted that phenomenological models of physical systems must be validated prior to use for prediction in consequential scenarios. Yet, there are certain situations in which testing only or no testing and no modeling may be economically viable alternatives to modeling and its associated testing. This paper develops an economic framework within which benefit–cost can be evaluated for modeling and model validation relative to other options. The development is presented in terms of a challenge problem. We provide a numerical example that quantifies when modeling, calibration, and validation yield higher benefit–cost than a testing only or no modeling and no testing option.

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