Uncertainty Analysis Based on Probability Bounds (P-Box) Approach in Probabilistic Safety Assessment
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A wide range of uncertainties will be introduced inevitably during the process of performing a safety assessment of engineering systems. The impact of all these uncertainties must be addressed if the analysis is to serve as a tool in the decision-making process. Uncertainties present in the components (input parameters of model or basic events) of model output are propagated to quantify its impact in the final results. There are several methods available in the literature, namely, method of moments, discrete probability analysis, Monte Carlo simulation, fuzzy arithmetic, and Dempster-Shafer theory. All the methods are different in terms of characterizing at the component level and also in propagating to the system level. All these methods have different desirable and undesirable features, making them more or less useful in different situations. In the probabilistic framework, which is most widely used, probability distribution is used to characterize uncertainty. However, in situations in which one cannot specify (1) parameter values for input distributions, (2) precise probability distributions (shape), and (3) dependencies between input parameters, these methods have limitations and are found to be not effective. In order to address some of these limitations, the article presents uncertainty analysis in the context of level-1 probabilistic safety assessment (PSA) based on a probability bounds (PB) approach. PB analysis combines probability theory and interval arithmetic to produce probability boxes (p-boxes), structures that allow the comprehensive propagation through calculation in a rigorous way. A practical case study is also carried out with the developed code based on the PB approach and compared with the two-phase Monte Carlo simulation results.
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