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Recent Developments in Reliability-Based Civil Engineering

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This book covers some of the most recent developments (theoretical and with application potential) in reliability-based civil engineering analysis and design. The chapters are authored by some of the most active scholars in their respective areas. The topics represent some of the most recent research, upcoming interests, and challenges to the profession. As a result of extensive multidisciplinary efforts, the reliability-based engineering concept has matured over the last three decades. Reliability evaluation procedures with different degrees of sophistication are available. 

Various simulation schemes are also available to verify the theoretical developments. Reflecting these developments, most of the engineering design codes or guidelines are being modified or have already been modified to explicitly consider the presence of uncertainty. 

However, some recent incidents have identified some of the weaknesses that have yet to be addressed. Extensive damage during some recent earthquakes forced the profession to change the design philosophy. The design philosophy of human safety has been extended to consider damage to structures, and the concept of performance-based design is being advocated.

 Risk assessment and management of complicated structural systems are some of the major building blocks of this concept. The World Trade Center incident of September 11, 2001 also prompted a discussion on how to design for low-probability high-consequence events. Safety evaluation of bridges and offshore structures has generated a considerable amount of interest.

 The civil engineering applications domain has been extended to the reliability of fatigue and corrosion related problems. Recent trends include reliability evaluation of complicated structures using their realistic behavior using the nonlinear finite element method and the meshfree method. Life-cycle cost analysis for maintenance decision isnow being advocated, although the major sources of uncertainty during the structural life have yet to be incorporated in the formulation.

 Health assessment of existing structures has attracted world-wide interest. Some of these challenges are very recent and the profession has just initiated discussion on the related issues. 

These topics are not expected to be available in book form. However, the thoughts and recent works of some scholars who are providing leadership in developing these areas need to be readily available to benefit students (undergraduate and graduate), researchers (university and industrial), and practitioners. 

This edited book provides a sampling of some exciting developments in upcoming areas. It is designed for readers who are familiar with the fundamentals and wishes to study or to advance the state of the art on a particular topic. It can be used as an authoritative reference.

The book consists of thirteen chapters. They can be grouped into several theme topics including design for low-probability high-consequence events, performancebased design for building, bridges, and structure-foundation systems, risk-based design of offshore structures, reliability assessment of fatigue and corrosion, numerical methods for the reliability assessment of complicated structural systems using the nonlinear finite element method and the meshfree method, reliability assessment using information from experts, life-cycle cost analysis considering major sources of uncertainty, and the health assessment and monitoring of existing structures in the presence of uncertainty.

 In Chapter 1, Corotis discusses risk in the built environment, and the role of risk and society’s risk perception in making decisions for structures and infrastructure. The chapter provides a brief presentation of the inherent risks in life, the hazards that face communities, and the limitations imposed by economic and political realities in making decisions for low-probability high-consequence future events. 

The chapter ends with thought-provoking discussions on societal decision issues involving trade-offs, development, sustainability, inter-generational transfer, utility, discounting, probability versus uncertainty, risk versus risk perception, and political realities. 

Rackwitz reports some recent developments in setting up rational public risk acceptability criteria for technical facilities exposed to natural or man-made hazards in Chapter 2. The life quality index is chosen as the basis for modern economic considerations and integrates the available information on world-wide communities. The social value of a statistical life and the corresponding willingness-to-pay are presented. Wen introduces the performance-based design concept in Chapter 3.

 The consideration and proper treatment of the large uncertainty in the loadings and capacity, including complex response behavior in the nonlinear range, is essential in the evaluation and design process. 

A performance check of the structures can be carried out at multiple levels from immediate occupancy to incipient collapse. Lifecycle cost can be used to arrive at optimal target reliability. Performance-based evaluation and design are demonstrated for earthquake and wind hazards. The approach is expected to provide the foundation for the upcoming performance-based design guidelines.