The Universal Learning Curve

  1. Dr. Romney B. Duffey BSc, PhD, FASME scientist manager speaker Principal Scientist ASME Fellow past Chair active member1 and
  2. John W. Saull CEng, FRAeS, DAE aviation regulator executive director head member chairman2

Published Online: 31 OCT 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470714461.ch1

Managing Risk: The Human Element

Managing Risk: The Human Element

How to Cite

Duffey, R. B. and Saull, J. W. (2008) The Universal Learning Curve, in Managing Risk: The Human Element, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470714461.ch1

Author Information

  1. 1

    Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL), Canada

  2. 2

    International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA), UK

  1. This Chapter expands on the ideas suggested in R.B. Duffey, A New General Accident Theory, Paper # 0759, Proc., International Conference on Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management (PSAM 7), Berlin, Germany, 14–18 June 2004.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 31 OCT 2008
  2. Published Print: 24 OCT 2008

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470699768

Online ISBN: 9780470714461



  • Universal Learning Curve;
  • learning hypothesis - marketplace of life;
  • Learning in Homo-Technological Systems (HTSs);
  • learning and risk reduction;
  • Canada electricity use and GDP;
  • managing risk and human element;
  • learning curve equations;
  • systematic naming classification or taxonomy


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Predicting Tragedies, Accidents and Failures: Using the Learning Hypothesis

  • The Learning Hypothesis: The Market Place of Life

  • Learning in Homo-Technological Systems (HTSs): The Way a Human Learns

  • Evidence of Risk Reduction by Learning

  • Evidence of Learning from Experience: Case Studies

  • Evidence of Learning in Economics

  • Evidence of Learning in Engineering and Architecture: The Costs of Mistakes

  • Learning in Technology: the Economics of Reducing Costs

  • Evidence of Learning Skill and Risk Reduction in the Medical Profession: Practice Makes Almost Perfect

  • Learning in HTSs: The Recent Data Still Agree

  • The Equations That Describe the Learning Curve

  • Zero Defects and Reality

  • Predicting Failures: The Human Bathtub

  • Experience Space: The Statistics of Managing Safety and of Observing Accidents

  • Predicting the Future Based on Past Experience: The Prior Ignorance

  • Future Events: the Way Forward Using Learning Probabilities

  • The Wisdom of Experience and Inevitability

  • The Last, First or Rare Event

  • Conclusions and Observations: Predicting Accidents

  • References