Predicting and diagnosing faults in wastewater treatment process by Bayesian Belief Networks

  • H.G. Chong

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Diagnosing faults in wastewater treatment, like diagnosis of most problems, requires bi-directional plausible reasoning. This means that both predictive (from causes to symptoms) and diagnostic (from symptoms to causes) inferences have to be made, depending on the evidence available, in reasoning for the final diagnosis. The use of computer technology for the purpose of diagnosing faults in the wastewater process has been explored, and a rule-based expert system was initiated. It was found that such an approach has serious limitations in its ability to reason bi-directionally, which makes it unsuitable for diagnosing tasks under the conditions of uncertainty. The probabilistic approach known as Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNS) was then critically reviewed, and was found to be well-suited for diagnosis under uncertainty. The theory and application of BBNs are outlined. A full-scale BBN for the diagnosis of faults in a wastewater treatment plant based on the activated sludge system has been developed in this research. Results from the BBN show good agreement with the predictions of wastewater experts. It can be concluded that the BBNs are far superior to rule-based systems based on certainty factors in their ability to diagnose faults and predict systems in complex operating systems having inherently uncertain behaviour.
Date of AwardOct 1997
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBill Walley (Supervisor), David Just (Supervisor) & C.H. Juang (Supervisor)


  • expert systems
  • reasoning under uncertainty
  • rule-based systems
  • Bayesian Belief Networks
  • wastewater treatment

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