Statistical equivalency and optimality of simple step-stress accelerated test plans for the exponential distribution

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Abstract

Accelerated life testing (ALT) is commonly used to obtain reliability information about a product in a timely manner. Several stress loading designs have been proposed and recent research interests have emerged concerning the development of equivalent ALT plans. Step-stress ALT (SSALT) is one of the most commonly used stress loadings because it usually shortens the test duration and reduces the number of required test units. This article considers two fundamental questions when designing a SSALT and provides formal proofs in answer to each. Namely: (1) can a simple SSALT be designed so that it is equivalent to other stress loading designs? (2) when optimizing a multilevel SSALT, does it degenerate to a simple SSALT plan? The answers to both queries, under certain reasonable model assumptions, are shown to be a qualified YES. In addition, we provide an argument to support the rationale of a common practice in designing a SSALT, that is, setting the higher stress level as high as possible in a SSALT plan. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics, 2013

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