Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
Optional Tutorials: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session
ERBA (ESD.72) emphasizes three methodologies - reliability and probabilistic risk assessment (RPRA), decision analysis (DA), and cost-benefit analysis (CBA). All of these pertain to decision making in the presence of significant uncertainty. In ERBA, the issues of interest are: The risks associated with large engineering projects such as nuclear power reactors, the International Space Station, and critical infrastructures; the development of new products; the design of processes and operations with environmental externalities; and infrastructure renewal projects.
As part of RPRA, we will review elementary probability theory and statistics. This review will be helpful not only for this course but also other courses in the SDM (System Design and Management) program, such as 15.761, Operations Management, and ESD.33J, Systems Engineering.
ERBA presents and interprets some of the many frameworks helpful for balancing risks and benefits in these situations that typically involve human safety, potential environmental effects, and large financial and technological uncertainties. Although ERBA is applications-oriented, we want to help you develop a critical understanding of the assumptions, consequences, and practical limitations of the tools we present. We also provide perspective on the use of formal analysis in public decisions. Most students in ERBA are taking it to obtain some knowledge and experience on important topics that are not otherwise part of their academic programs.