Document Type



The application of the recently developed “nth-order comprehensive sensitivity analysis methodology for nonlinear systems” (abbreviated as “nth-CASAM-N”) has been previously illustrated on paradigm nonlinear space-dependent problems. To complement these illustrative applications, this work illustrates the application of the nth-CASAM-N to a paradigm nonlinear time-dependent model chosen from the field of reactor dynamics/safety, namely the well-known Nordheim–Fuchs model. This phenomenological model describes a short-time self-limiting power transient in a nuclear reactor system having a negative temperature coefficient in which a large amount of reactivity is suddenly inserted, either intentionally or by accident. This model is sufficiently complex to demonstrate all the important features of applying the nth-CASAM-N methodology yet admits exact closed-form solutions for the energy released in the transient, which is the most important system response. All of the expressions of the first- and second-level adjoint functions and, subsequently, the first- and second-order sensitivities of the released energy to the model’s parameters are obtained analytically in closed form. The principles underlying the application of the 3rd-CASAM-N methodology for the computation of the third-order sensitivities are demonstrated for both mixed and unmixed second-order sensitivities. For the Nordheim–Fuchs model, a single adjoint computation suffices to obtain the six 1st-order sensitivities, while two adjoint computations suffice to obtain all of the 36 second-order sensitivities (of which 21 are distinct). This illustrative example demonstrates that the number of (large-scale) adjoint computations increases at most linearly within the nth-CASAM-N methodology, as opposed to the exponential increase in the parameter-dimensional space which occurs when applying conventional statistical and/or finite difference schemes to compute higher-order sensitivities. For very large and complex models, the nth-CASAM-N is the only practical methodology for computing response sensitivities comprehensively and accurately, overcoming the curse of dimensionality in sensitivity analysis of nonlinear systems.

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APA Citation

Cacuci, D. (2022). Illustrative Application of the nth-Order Comprehensive Adjoint Sensitivity Analysis Methodology for Nonlinear Systems to the Nordheim–Fuchs Reactor Dynamics/Safety Model. Journal Of Nuclear Engineering, 3(3), 191-221.