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Reliability: An Interdisciplinary Application

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.375.1 - 1.375.8

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Paper Authors

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Richard West

author page

Paul J. Laumakis

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

-a”. Session 3565


Paul J. Laumakis, Richard West United States Military Academy


Assessing the reliability of large-scale systems is a problem common to all engineering disciplines. From simple piping systems to highly complex computer networks, reliability issues are of major concern to both designers and manufacturers, as well as customers. At the same time, the national mathematics reform movement would like us to introduce our students to the relevance and usefulness of the mathematics used in other disciplines. As such, it is important to expose our students, who are interested in pursuing engineering degrees, to the fundamentals of reliability analysis.

In this paper, we will solve for the reliability of a large-scale system. We will develop the necessary background required for such an analysis, including a review of some fundamental probability concepts. All introduction to basic component reliability will be followed by a discussion of series, parallel, active redundant and standby redundant subsystems. The usefulness of the HP 48 calculator in solving for large-scale system reliabilities will be demonstrated.

System Reliability

When assessing the reliability of a system, it is often advantageous to identify and examine the major subsystems which comprise the overall system. After such an examination is complete, it is then possible to compute the overall system reliability from the individual subsystem reliabilities with the use of some elementary probability theory. We intend to show how the use of the HP 48 calculator can simplify the computation of these subsystem reliabilities and thus enable students to analyze some fairly complicated, real- world problems.

Consider the following scenario: You are a systems analyst and a tasking has just come across your desk to evaluate a new Vehicle Identification System (VIS) in terms of its reliability. The main purpose of this new system is to reduce the number of false identifications among friendly troops by keeping the Main Tanks (MT) from firing on Bradley Vehicles (BV) when engaged in close combat. The three major subsystems are the MT, the Thermal Imaging Subsystem (TIS) mounted on the MT, and specially treated Heat Emitting Panels (HEP) mounted on the BV as shown in Figure 1. All components and subsystems fail independently of one another and all component failure times are exponentially distributed with daily failure rates as shown. The goal is to compute the overall reliability of the VIS, denoted R~Y~ (1).

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West, R., & Laumakis, P. J. (1996, June), Reliability: An Interdisciplinary Application Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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