VEDA (VErsatile Data Analyst)
VEDA is a powerful yet user friendly set of tools geared to facilitate the creation, maintenance, browsing, and modification of the large data bases required by complex mathematical and economic models. Also, smart exploration of the results created by such models and the creation of reports. The VEDA system is composed of two major subsystems – VEDA Front-End (VEDA_FE) and VEDA Back-End (VEDA_BE).
Overview of the VEDA system for TIMES modeling
Data and assumptions are fed into VEDA_FE that provides input to the TIMES code. VEDA_FE accepts input from a variety of Excel files with different (flexible) structures that are tailored to work efficiently with data intensive models. The TIMES code works in the GAMS environment and produces text output that is read by VEDA_BE. VEDA_BE produces numerical and graphical (mainly via Excel) output for the user. Future updates will have VEDA_FE and VEDA_BE interacting more and more. For example, it will be possible to view the results for the processes/commodities being browsed in VEDA_FE. Similarly, input information for the processes/commodities selected in VEDA_BE will be a click away.
VEDA_FE is the outcome of MARKAL and TIMES modeling assignments executed by its developer over the past 15 years. It is under continuous development, driven by a very strong desire to keep increasing the efficiency and transparency of managing input (and output) of data-intensive models. The vision statement of VEDA applications is to take the drudgery out of modeling.
1994-96: FoxPro manipulation of MUSS databases of the first MARKAL (GAMS) for India during doctoral dessertation at IIM Ahmedabad.
1996-00: Manipulating MUSS databases and MPS files for MARKAL (OMNI) to develop and run the 13-region Canadian MARKAL for the National Climate Change Process.
2000: Programmers hired in India to start building a VB-Access application to manage the output. This is now known as VEDA_BE. This team started supporting the front-end development by 2001.
2000-07: Supported the SAGE model of EIA (United States Department of Energy); VEDA_FE started out as a bunch of Excel macros and ended up as a full-blown front-end for the SAGE model. VEDA emerged as the third MARKAL shell (behind MUSS and ANSWER) during this project.
2002-08: VEDA supported RS 2A for the NEEDS project and emerged as the first TIMES-shell during this project.
The developer being its first user is a very special feature of VEDA. Intimate domain knowledge has obvious advantages for software development, but every silver lining has a cloud…
The system is fundamentally biased towards large-scale multi-region models. It can certainly support small single-region models, but its real power comes into play when modeling several regions together. Early incarnations of VEDA were used only in projects where the developers were directly involved. The primary focus of this system has been on expanding the envelope of possibilities; helping new users emerged as a priority only recently.
VEDA_FE supports both MARKAL and TIMES at this point, but KanORS-EMR (and ETSAP, as per the Executive Committee meeting of winter 2008) not promoting the use of MARKAL any longer. VEDA developers used MARKAL for more than a decade, stretched it far beyond its original design, and finally contributed to formulating the TIMES model. These are good reasons for us to be biased, but an objective comparison has been drawn up.