Multiobjective Calibration of Disease Simulation Models Using Gaussian Processes

Aditya Sai, Carolina Vivas-Valencia, Thomas F. Imperiale, Nan Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background. Developing efficient procedures of model calibration, which entails matching model predictions to observed outcomes, has gained increasing attention. With faithful but complex simulation models established for cancer diseases, key parameters of cancer natural history can be investigated for possible fits, which can subsequently inform optimal prevention and treatment strategies. When multiple calibration targets exist, one approach to identifying optimal parameters relies on the Pareto frontier. However, computational burdens associated with higher-dimensional parameter spaces require a metamodeling approach. The goal of this work is to explore multiobjective calibration using Gaussian process regression (GPR) with an eye toward how multiple goodness-of-fit (GOF) criteria identify Pareto-optimal parameters. Methods. We applied GPR, a metamodeling technique, to estimate colorectal cancer (CRC)–related prevalence rates simulated from a microsimulation model of CRC natural history, known as the Colon Modeling Open Source Tool (CMOST). We embedded GPR metamodels within a Pareto optimization framework to identify best-fitting parameters for age-, adenoma-, and adenoma staging–dependent transition probabilities and risk factors. The Pareto frontier approach is demonstrated using genetic algorithms with both sum-of-squared errors (SSEs) and Poisson deviance GOF criteria. Results. The GPR metamodel is able to approximate CMOST outputs accurately on 2 separate parameter sets. Both GOF criteria are able to identify different best-fitting parameter sets on the Pareto frontier. The SSE criterion emphasizes the importance of age-specific adenoma progression parameters, while the Poisson criterion prioritizes adenoma-specific progression parameters. Conclusion. Different GOF criteria assert different components of the CRC natural history. The combination of multiobjective optimization and nonparametric regression, along with diverse GOF criteria, can advance the calibration process by identifying optimal regions of the underlying parameter landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-552
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Gaussian process
  • Pareto frontier
  • calibration
  • cancer simulation
  • goodness-of-fit criterion
  • microsimulation
  • regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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