Expert systems for fault analysis

  • Stephen H. Booth

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The initial aim of this research was to investigate the application of expert Systems, or Knowledge Base Systems technology to the automated synthesis of Hazard and Operability Studies. Due to the generic nature of Fault Analysis problems and the way in which Knowledge Base Systems work, this goal has evolved into a consideration of automated support for Fault Analysis in general, covering HAZOP, Fault Tree Analysis, FMEA and Fault Diagnosis in the Process Industries. This thesis described a proposed architecture for such an Expert System. The purpose of the System is to produce a descriptive model of faults and fault propagation from a description of the physical structure of the plant. From these descriptive models, the desired Fault Analysis may be produced. The way in which this is done reflects the complexity of the problem which, in principle, encompasses the whole of the discipline of Process Engineering. An attempt is made to incorporate the perceived method that an expert uses to solve the problem; keywords, heuristics and guidelines from techniques such as HAZOP and Fault Tree Synthesis are used. In a truly Expert System, the performance of the system is strongly dependent on the high quality of the knowledge that is incorporated. This expert knowledge takes the form of heuristics or rules of thumb which are used in problem solving. This research has shown that, for the application of fault analysis heuristics, it is necessary to have a representation of the details of fault propagation within a process. This helps to ensure the robustness of the system - a gradual rather than abrupt degradation at the boundaries of the domain knowledge.
Date of Award1993
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn Fletcher (Supervisor)


  • Expert systems
  • fault analysis
  • knowledge based systems
  • fault tree synthesis

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