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Reliability Glossary

System Reliability Terms

Block diagram
A diagram that represents how the components, represented by "blocks," are arranged and related reliability-wise in a larger system. This is often but not necessarily the same as the way that the components are physically related. This is also called a reliability block diagram or RBD.

Complex system
A block diagram that cannot be reduced to series and/or parallel systems.

Decomposition method
A method for determining the reliability of complex systems. The decomposition method is an application of the law of total probability, which involves choosing a "key" component and then calculating the reliability of the system twice: once as if the key component failed and once as if the key component succeeded. These two probabilities are then combined to obtain the reliability of the system, since at any given time the key component will be failed or operating.

Event space method
A method for determining the reliability of complex systems. With the event space method, all mutually exclusive events are determined. The reliability of the system is simply the probability of the union of all mutually exclusive events that yield a system success (the unreliability is the probability of the union of all mutually exclusive events that yield a system failure).

Path-tracing method
A method for determining the reliability of complex systems. With this method, every path from a starting point to an ending point is considered. Since system success involves having at least one path available from one end of the reliability block diagram to the other, as long as at least one path is available, the system has not failed. The reliability of the system is simply the probability of the union of these paths.

RBD
see Block diagram

Reliability block diagram
see Block diagram

System reliability
The reliability of an entire system, as opposed to the reliability of its components. The system reliability is defined by the reliability of the components as well as the way the components are arranged reliability-wise.