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A Fault Tree Analysis Strategy Using Binary Decision Diagrams

by Karen A. Reay of Loughborough University, and
John D. Andrews of Loughborough University

February 2002

Abstract: The use of Binary Decision Diagrams (BDDs) in fault tree analysis provides both an accurate and efficient means of analysing a system. There is a problem however, with the conversion process of the fault tree to the BDD. The variable ordering scheme chosen for the construction of the BDD has a crucial effect on its resulting size and previous research has failed to identify any scheme that is capable of producing BDDs for all fault trees. This paper proposes an analysis strategy aimed at increasing the likelihood of obtaining a BDD for any given fault tree, by ensuring the associated calculations are as efficient as possible. The method implements simplification techniques, which are applied to the fault tree to obtain a set of 'minimal' subtrees, equivalent to the original fault tree structure. BDDs are constructed for each, using ordering schemes most suited to their particular characteristics. Quantitative analysis is performed simultaneously on the set of BDDs to obtain the top event probability, the system unconditional failure intensity and the criticality of the basic events.

Published in: Reliability Engineering & System Safety, Vol. 78, No. 1, (October 2002), pp. 45-56.

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