Background: Data-driven methods that automatically learn relations between attributes from given data are a popular tool for building mathematical models in computational biology. Since measurements are prone to errors, approaches dealing with uncertain data are especially suitable for this task. Fuzzy models are one such approach, but they contain a large amount of parameters and are thus susceptible to over-fitting. Validation methods that help detect over-fitting are therefore needed to eliminate inaccurate models.
Results: We propose a method to enlarge the validation datasets on which a fuzzy dynamic model of a cellular network can be tested. We apply our method to two data-driven dynamic models of the MAPK signalling pathway and two models of the mammalian circadian clock. We show that random initial state perturbations can drastically increase the mean error of predictions of an inaccurate computational model, while keeping errors of predictions of accurate models small.
Conclusions: With the improvement of validation methods, fuzzy models are becoming more accurate and are thus likely to gain new applications. This field of research is promising not only because fuzzy models can cope with uncertainty, but also because their run time is short compared to conventional modelling methods that are nowadays used in systems biology.