Analysis Methods for Probabilistic Life Assessment
This article describes the historical background, uncertainties in structural parameters, classifications, and application areas of probabilistic analysis. It provides a discussion on the basic definition of random variables, some common distribution functions used in engineering, selection of a probability distribution, the failure model definition, and a definition of the probability of failure. The article also explains the solution techniques for special cases and general solution techniques, such as first-second-order reliability methods, the advanced mean value method, the response surface method, and Monte Carlo sampling. A brief introduction to importance sampling, time-variant reliability, system reliability, and risk analysis and target reliabilities is also provided. The article examines the various application problems for which probabilistic analysis is an essential element. Examples of the use of probabilistic analysis are presented. The article concludes with an overview of some of the commercially available software programs for performing probabilistic analysis.