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Technical Paper

Modeling Dependence and Assessing the Effect of Uncertainty in Dependence in Probabilistic Analysis and Decision Under Uncertainty

A complete probabilistic model of uncertainty in probabilistic analysis and design problems is the joint probability distribution of the random variables. Often, it is impractical to estimate this joint probability distribution because the mechanism of the dependence of the variables is not completely understood. This paper proposes modeling dependence by using copulas and demonstrates their representational power. It also compares this representation with a Monte-Carlo simulation using dispersive sampling.
Journal Article

Prediction of Automotive Side Swing Door Closing Effort

The door closing effort is a quality issue concerning both automobile designers and customers. This paper describes an Excel based mathematical model for predicting the side door closing effort in terms of the required minimum energy or velocity, to close the door from a small open position when the check-link ceases to function. A simplified but comprehensive model is developed which includes the cabin pressure (air bind), seal compression, door weight, latch effort, and hinge friction effects. The flexibility of the door and car body is ignored. Because the model simplification introduces errors, we calibrate it using measured data. Calibration is also necessary because some input parameters are difficult to obtain directly. In this work, we provide the option to calibrate the hinge model, the latch model, the seal compression model, and the air bind model. The door weight effect is geometrically exact, and does not need calibration.
Technical Paper

Imprecise Reliability Assessment When the Type of the Probability Distribution of the Random Variables is Unknown

In reliability design, often, there is scarce data for constructing probabilistic models. It is particularly challenging to model uncertainty in variables when the type of their probability distribution is unknown. Moreover, it is expensive to estimate the upper and lower bounds of the reliability of a system involving such variables. A method for modeling uncertainty by using Polynomial Chaos Expansion is presented. The method requires specifying bounds for statistical summaries such as the first four moments and credible intervals. A constrained optimization problem, in which decision variables are the coefficients of the Polynomial Chaos Expansion approximation, is formulated and solved in order to estimate the minimum and maximum values of a system’s reliability. This problem is solved efficiently by employing a probabilistic re-analysis approach to approximate the system reliability as a function of the moments of the random variables.
Journal Article

Probabilistic Reanalysis Using Monte Carlo Simulation

An approach for Probabilistic Reanalysis (PRA) of a system is presented. PRA calculates very efficiently the system reliability or the average value of an attribute of a design for many probability distributions of the input variables, by performing a single Monte Carlo simulation. In addition, PRA calculates the sensitivity derivatives of the reliability to the parameters of the probability distributions. The approach is useful for analysis problems where reliability bounds need to be calculated because the probability distribution of the input variables is uncertain or for design problems where the design variables are random. The accuracy and efficiency of PRA is demonstrated on vibration analysis of a car and on system reliability-based optimization (RBDO) of an internal combustion engine.
Journal Article

Reliability Estimation for Multiple Failure Region Problems using Importance Sampling and Approximate Metamodels

An efficient reliability estimation method is presented for engineering systems with multiple failure regions and potentially multiple most probable points. The method can handle implicit, nonlinear limit-state functions, with correlated or non-correlated random variables, which can be described by any probabilistic distribution. It uses a combination of approximate or “accurate-on-demand,” global and local metamodels which serve as indicators to determine the failure and safe regions. Samples close to limit states define transition regions between safe and failure domains. A clustering technique identifies all transition regions which can be in general disjoint, and local metamodels of the actual limit states are generated for each transition region.
Technical Paper

An Efficient Possibility-Based Design Optimization Method for a Combination of Interval and Random Variables

Reliability-based design optimization accounts for variation. However, it assumes that statistical information is available in the form of fully defined probabilistic distributions. This is not true for a variety of engineering problems where uncertainty is usually given in terms of interval ranges. In this case, interval analysis or possibility theory can be used instead of probability theory. This paper shows how possibility theory can be used in design and presents a computationally efficient sequential optimization algorithm. The algorithm handles problems with only uncertain or a combination of random and uncertain design variables and parameters. It consists of a sequence of cycles composed of a deterministic design optimization followed by a set of worst-case reliability evaluation loops. A crank-slider mechanism example demonstrates the accuracy and efficiency of the proposed sequential algorithm.
Technical Paper

Design Optimization and Reliability Estimation with Incomplete Uncertainty Information

Existing methods for design optimization under uncertainty assume that a high level of information is available, typically in the form of data. In reality, however, insufficient data prevents correct inference of probability distributions, membership functions, or interval ranges. In this article we use an engine design example to show that optimal design decisions and reliability estimations depend strongly on uncertainty characterization. We contrast the reliability-based optimal designs to the ones obtained using worst-case optimization, and ask the question of how to obtain non-conservative designs with incomplete uncertainty information. We propose an answer to this question through the use of Bayesian statistics. We estimate the truck's engine reliability based only on available samples, and demonstrate that the accuracy of our estimates increases as more samples become available.
Technical Paper

Sensitivity Study of Staircase Fatigue Tests Using Monte Carlo Simulation

The staircase fatigue test method is a well-established, but poorly understood probe for determining fatigue strength mean and standard deviation. The sensitivity of results to underlying distributions was studied using Monte Carlo simulation by repeatedly sampling known distributions of hypothetical fatigue strength data with the staircase test method. In this paper, the effects of the underlying distribution on staircase test results are presented with emphasis on original normal, lognormal, Weibull and bimodal data. The results indicate that the mean fatigue strength determined by the staircase testing protocol is largely unaffected by the underlying distribution, but the standard deviation is not. Suggestions for conducting staircase tests are provided.
Technical Paper

A Design Optimization Method Using Possibility Theory

Early in the engineering design cycle, it is difficult to quantify product reliability or compliance to performance targets due to insufficient data or information for modeling the uncertainties. Design decisions are therefore, based on fuzzy information that is vague, imprecise qualitative, linguistic or incomplete. The uncertain information is usually available as intervals with lower and upper limits. In this work, the possibility theory is used to assess design reliability with incomplete information. The possibility theory can be viewed as a variant of fuzzy set theory. A possibility-based design optimization method is proposed where all design constraints are expressed possibilistically. It is shown that the method gives a conservative solution compared with all conventional reliability-based designs obtained with different probability distributions.
Technical Paper

Reliability Analysis Using Monte Carlo Simulation and Response Surface Methods

An accurate and efficient Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) method is developed in this paper for limit state-based reliability analysis, especially at system levels, by using a response surface approximation of the failure indicator function. The Moving Least Squares (MLS) method is used to construct the response surface of the indicator function, along with an Optimum Symmetric Latin Hypercube (OSLH) as the sampling technique. Similar to MCS, the proposed method can easily handle implicit, highly nonlinear limit-state functions, with variables of any statistical distributions and correlations. However, the efficiency of MCS can be greatly improved. The method appears to be particularly efficient for multiple limit state and multiple design point problem. A mathematical example and a practical example are used to highlight the superior accuracy and efficiency of the proposed method over traditional reliability methods.
Technical Paper

Reliability Analysis of Systems with Nonlinear Limit States; Application to Automotive Door Closing Effort

In this paper, an efficient method for the reliability analysis of systems with nonlinear limit states is described. It combines optimization-based and simulation-based approaches and is particularly applicable for problems with highly nonlinear and implicit limit state functions, which are difficult to solve by conventional reliability methods. The proposed method consists of two major parts. In the first part, an optimization-based method is used to search for the most probable point (MPP) on the limit state. This is achieved by using adaptive response surface approximations. In the second part, a multi-modal adaptive importance sampling method is proposed using the MPP information from the first part as the starting point. The proposed method is applied to the reliability estimation of a vehicle body-door subsystem with respect to one of the important quality issues -- the door closing effort.