Inductive Approaches to Structural Safety

by Daniele Veneziano, (A.M.ASCE), Asst. Prof.; Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Massachusetts Inst. of Tech., Cambridge, Mass.,

Serial Information: Engineering Issues: Journal of Professional Activities, 1976, Vol. 102, Issue 1, Pg. 81-97

Document Type: Journal Paper


The limitations of conventional systems of (structural) safety, which are based on the definition: safety: mathematical reliability, are pointed out. In substitution, more general inductive systems are proposed which consider safety as a subjective feeling, inclusive of sociological and psychological conditionings; human judgement is an essential linking element of these systems. The widely documented suboptimality of human inference, when compared with normative rules is considered, and ways are suggested to improve its coherence by using Bayes' theorem in various formulations. Descriptive models of human information processing are also reviewed. The opinion is expressed that inductive models create an appropriate ground on which probabilistic and nonprobabilistic approaches to (structural) safety can be reconciled.

Subject Headings: Structural safety | Human factors | Structural reliability | Structural systems | Terminology and definition | System reliability | Social factors | Public health and safety

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