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The safety assessment process is seen to consist of two parts. The traditional numerical and computational part is based on algorithms, precise measurements and analysis of data. The inferential and qualitative part of the process includes the overall delineation of the problem, the selection of what is relevant, and the choice of appropriate rules to deal with incompletely defined situations, uncertainty and conflict. The complexity of structural safety assessment is illustrated by an examination of a definition of "safe structure" given by a leading expert in the field. The management of this complexity by specialisation is shown to be unsatisfactory. Knowledge engineering, however, regards this complexity as due to a multiplicity of non-compatible representations, arising from the interactions between the system and the observer. A decision can be reached by a cognitive process that converges through a progressive reduction to a single representation of the system. Expert systems aim to emulate this cognitive process, linking engineering and humanistic disciplines.

Additional information

Authors: VOLTA G, JRC Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: International Course on Expert Systems in Structural Safety Assessment, Stuttgart (DE), Oct. 2-4, 1989
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 35058 ORA
Record Number: 199010043 / Last updated on: 1994-12-01
Original language: en
Available languages: en