On the Advancement of Probabilistic Models of Decompression Sickness
The work presented in this dissertation is focused on applying engineering methods to develop and explore probabilistic survival models for the prediction of decompression sickness in US NAVY divers. Mathematical modeling, computational model development, and numerical optimization techniques were employed to formulate and evaluate the predictive quality of models fitted to empirical data. In Chapters 1 and 2 we present general background information relevant to the development of probabilistic models applied to predicting the incidence of decompression sickness. The remainder of the dissertation introduces techniques developed in an effort to improve the predictive quality of probabilistic decompression models and to reduce the difficulty of model parameter optimization.
The first project explored seventeen variations of the hazard function using a well-perfused parallel compartment model. Models were parametrically optimized using the maximum likelihood technique. Model performance was evaluated using both classical statistical methods and model selection techniques based on information theory. Optimized model parameters were overall similar to those of previously published Results indicated that a novel hazard function definition that included both ambient pressure scaling and individually fitted compartment exponent scaling terms.
We developed ten pharmacokinetic compartmental models that included explicit delay mechanics to determine if predictive quality could be improved through the inclusion of material transfer lags. A fitted discrete delay parameter augmented the inflow to the compartment systems from the environment. Based on the observation that symptoms are often reported after risk accumulation begins for many of our models, we hypothesized that the inclusion of delays might improve correlation between the model predictions and observed data. Model selection techniques identified two models as having the best overall performance, but comparison to the best performing model without delay and model selection using our best identified no delay pharmacokinetic model both indicated that the delay mechanism was not statistically justified and did not substantially improve model predictions.
Our final investigation explored parameter bounding techniques to identify parameter regions for which statistical model failure will not occur. When a model predicts a no probability of a diver experiencing decompression sickness for an exposure that is known to produce symptoms, statistical model failure occurs. Using a metric related to the instantaneous risk, we successfully identify regions where model failure will not occur and identify the boundaries of the region using a root bounding technique. Several models are used to demonstrate the techniques, which may be employed to reduce the difficulty of model optimization for future investigations.
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