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Keywords:

  • system reliability;
  • dependent subsystems;
  • probability inequalities;
  • system and subsystem testing;
  • pairwise testing;
  • parameter estimation;
  • confidence interval

Abstract

Full-system testing for large-scale systems is often infeasible or very costly. Thus, when estimating system reliability, it is desirable to use a method that uses subsystem tests, which are often less expensive and more feasible. This article presents a method for bounding full-system reliabilities based on subsystem tests and, if available, full-system tests. The method does not require that subsystems be independent. It accounts for dependencies through the use of certain probability inequalities. The inequalities provide the basis for valid reliability calculations while not requiring independent subsystems or full-system tests. The inequalities allow for test information on pairwise subsystem failure modes to be incorporated, thereby improving the bound on system reliability. We illustrate some of the properties of the estimates via an example application. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics, 2013