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2, APRIL 1999

for System Reliability

James Dunyak, Ihab W. Saad, and Donald Wunsch, Senior Member, IEEE

Abstract— Fuzzy fault trees provide a powerful and compu- An uncertain parameter may be assigned a fuzzy

tationally efficient technique for developing fuzzy probabilities membership function : [0, 1], which is the mem-

based on independent inputs. The probability of any event that bership function of a fuzzy set . Then the possibility that

can be described in terms of a sequence of independent unions,

intersections, and complements may be calculated by a fuzzy fault is in a set is designated by and

tree. Unfortunately, fuzzy fault trees do not provide a complete

theory: many events of substantial practical interest cannot be

described only by independent operations. Thus, the standard

fuzzy extension (based on fuzzy fault trees) is not complete This is the sense in which we describe uncertainty in the

since not all events are assigned a fuzzy probability. Other

complete extensions have been proposed, but these extensions

probability of an event .

are not consistent with the calculations from fuzzy fault trees. In this paper, is a fuzzy set describing uncertainty in

In this paper, we propose a new extension of crisp probability the crisp probability and : [0, 1] [0, 1]. Fuzzy

theory. Our model is based on n independent inputs, each with fault trees provide a method for developing fuzzy probabilities

a fuzzy probability. The elements of our sample space describe based on independent fuzzy inputs [1]. The probability

exactly which of the n input events did and did not occur. Our

extension is complete since a fuzzy probability is assigned to

of any event that can be described in terms of a sequence

every subset of the sample space. Our extension is also consistent of independent unions, intersections, and complements may

with all calculations that can be arranged as a fault tree. Our be calculated by a fuzzy fault tree. Unfortunately, we show

approach allows the reliability analyst to develop complete and below that some events of substantial practical interest cannot

consistent fuzzy reliability models from existing crisp reliability be described only by independent operations: Standard fuzzy

models. This allows a comprehensive analysis of the system.

Computational algorithms are provided both to extend existing

fault trees do not provide a complete theory. Thus, the standard

models and develop new models. The technique is demonstrated fuzzy extension (based on fuzzy fault trees) is not complete

on a reliability model of a three-stage industrial process. since not all events are assigned a fuzzy probability. Zadeh

Index Terms— Fuzzy fault trees, fuzzy probability, fuzzy sets,

proposed another extension which is complete [11], but his

independence. extension is shown (in our context) to be inconsistent with the

calculations from fuzzy fault trees. For recent developments of

fuzzy probability, see [2]–[5]. Walley and de Cooman, in par-

I. INTRODUCTION ticular, discuss completeness and consistency in a more general

setting. See also Cai’s work on system failure engineering [6]

M ANY system reliability models require (as input) the

probabilities of a number of independent events. Often

these probabilities can be estimated from data or theory, but

and other discussions of fuzzy fault trees [7]–[10].

Here we develop a new extension of crisp probability theory

sometimes choosing probabilities for input is difficult. This based on independent inputs, each with a fuzzy probability.

work is part of an ongoing study in high-consequence surety The elements of our sample space describe exactly which of

analysis. Many of the factors of interest come from tradi- the input events did and did not occur. This extension will

tionally nonmathematical areas of research such as estimating be shown to be both complete and consistent.

the probability of a terrorist attack, compliance with safety

practices, or a flawed design of a safety system. Other factors II. INDEPENDENT CALCULATIONS AND FUZZY FAULT TREES

are too expensive or dangerous to measure experimentally. Throughout this paper, we use the bar notation to

Instead, expert opinion is used to provide these probabilities, indicate a fuzzy set representing probability of , the notation

but these estimates are rarely precise. Fuzzy sets and possi- to indicate the corresponding upper semicontinuous

bility theory provide a tool for describing and analyzing these membership function and : to indicate

uncertain quantities. the corresponding cuts. A convex fuzzy set has special

structure: each cut is a closed and convex subset of .

Manuscript received December 1, 1997; revised June 29, 1998. This work We see for a convex fuzzy probability that each cut can

was supported in part by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental

Laboratory. be written as a closed interval with , . This

J. Dunyak is with the Department of Mathematics, Texas Tech University, assumption of convexity is equivalent to assuming that the

Lubbock, TX 79409 USA. membership function has a single mode. Earlier work with

I. W. Saad and D. Wunsch are with the Department of Electrical Engineer-

ing, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409 USA. independent fuzzy probabilities relied on this (often quite

Publisher Item Identifier S 1063-6706(99)02796-4. reasonable) assumption of convexity, but our work will be

1063–6706/99$10.00 1999 IEEE

DUNYAK et al.: THEORY OF INDEPENDENT FUZZY PROBABILITY FOR SYSTEM RELIABILITY 287

fuzzy sets here are required to have nonempty cut. This

property follows here from normality.

Consider independent events , , , , with

estimated fuzzy probabilities , , , , which will

be used in a reliability model. Following the lead of Tanaka

et al. [1] and many others, our concept of independence is

crisp. We assume the underlying probabilities for , ,

, , are independent in the conventional (crisp) sense.

Our goal is to build a fuzzy probability theory to describe the Fig. 1. A fuzzy fault tree that maintains independence.

probabilities of various unions, intersections, and complements

of these sets. To this end, we follow the standard approach

of Tanaka et al. [1] and first build fuzzy intersections of Unfortunately, the distributive laws fail. Straightforward

independent events. application of the above formulas show

If events are independent, then for crisp probabilities we

have

(8)

and independent so (4) cannot be applied.

As we see in (8), care must be used in organizing cal-

culations to maintain independence. This is usually done by

Using the usual extension principle, we define the fuzzy describing calculations as a tree structure. This viewpoint was

independent union and intersection as naturally assumed in several papers on fuzzy fault trees [1],

(1) [12]–[16]. To illustrate this concept, consider the example

tree diagram in Fig. 1. This diagram contains three varieties

and of nodes: unions, intersections, and complements. At the

(2) nodes, fuzzy input probabilities are combined according to the

formulas in (1)–(3). As long as the tree only feeds upward and

each node has only one output, independence is maintained.

Complements of fuzzy probabilities are similarly defined by

Because of DeMorgan’s laws in (5), we can develop fault trees

(3) using only unions and intersections (but no complements) or

only intersections and complements (but no unions). Thus,

We then have the following familiar properties: several somewhat different approaches to fault trees are in fact

equivalent when the standard extensions in (1)–(3) are used.

Unfortunately, many problems do not easily fit into a

straightforward tree structure, with each node having only one

output. In our investigations, certain factors (such as terrorism

risk) influence many different events so that construction of

independent trees is problematic. As we will see in the next

section, other problems also occur.

(4)

III. COMPLETENESS

This third formula is DeMorgan’s law and extends in the The representation of some sets can be rearranged to allow

obvious way to use of (1)–(3). For example, in (8), since is not

(necessarily) independent of , we could simply define

(5) (9)

If the fuzzy probabilities are convex, we have the relationships Now and are independent so we can correctly calculate

between endpoints of the -cut intervals using (2). Since is independent of ,

we can apply (1) to calculate . Unfortunately,

unraveling such relationships can be very difficult in complex

models. Of greater concern is the fact that not all possible

(6) fuzzy probabilities can be calculated by rearranging into a

calculation that maintains independence.

and For example, a listing of all possible independent cal-

culations easily shows that may not be

(7) rearranged to allow calculation by independence formulas.

288 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON FUZZY SYSTEMS, VOL. 7, NO. 2, APRIL 1999

Consider two independent system components numbered probability that exactly one of units 1 and 2 is functional.

and . If event indicates that is operational and Unfortunately, as discussed in the proceeding paragraph, this

indicates that is operational, then is the fuzzy probability cannot be modeled using (1)–(3). Several

fuzzy probability that exactly one of the two components other “gaps” occur in the fuzzy reliability model of the system.

is operational. The inability of (1)–(3) to calculate such Clearly, many important fuzzy probabilities cannot be

probabilities is a serious limitation in reliability applications. reached by the standard independence formulas in (1)–(3). To

This problem with dependence was first recognized by Cooper understand what sets are missing, we should more carefully

[15]. It was also discussed briefly by the authors in [17]. specify the probability space of interest in our reliability

This limitation is illustrated by the example we use in this problem.

paper. Consider the three-stage manufacturing process shown Traditional probability theory is built with the concept of a

in Fig. 2. This diagram shows the flow of an industrial process probability triple: [ , , ] with sample space describing

through three stages. Stage one may be performed by two all possible outcomes of the experiment, a collection of

redundant units, each with a throughput capacity of 0.5 items subsets of meeting the requirements of a field and

per second. If both units 1 and 2 are operational, stage one a probability measure that assigns a number to each

has a throughput capacity of one item per second. If only one member of . We build our fuzzy triplet from independent

of the two units is operational, the stage one throughput is 0.5 sets , , , , .

items per second. If neither unit 1 nor unit 2 are operational, Definition: The sample space based on independent

the throughput capacity of stage one is zero. This viewpoint events , , , is the set of 2 distinct elements

may be used to build the throughput capacity of the entire

process, with the capacity of stage one limiting the possible

flow through stage two, and so on. Let be the event that of the form

unit is operational. Assume the process has repairable (or

replaceable) independent units and that the process has been with or

in operation long enough to approximately reach stationarity.

Then is the stationary readiness coefficient of unit

[18]. Letting be the process throughput capacity, we can For the remainder of this paper, the notation will be used

calculate the steady-state distribution of as to indicate the independent events from which is defined.

For example, for

(10) These are the basic elements in our reliability problem. Each

describes exactly which of the events did and did not occur.

and so on. Possible values of are 0, 0.4, 0.5, 0.8, 1.0 . Note that has a finite number of elements, so our sample

Calculation of the distribution of follows easily when the space is discrete. A fuzzy probability theory, in keeping with

stationary readiness coefficients are crisp; our goal is to study both our needs and the structure of crisp probability theory for

this process with fuzzy readiness coefficients. To calculate discrete sample spaces, should assign a probability for every

the fuzzy probability , we must calculate the fuzzy subset of .

DUNYAK et al.: THEORY OF INDEPENDENT FUZZY PROBABILITY FOR SYSTEM RELIABILITY 289

Definition: The field over which fuzzy probabilities Now consider the statement of proposition 2. If and

are defined is the collection of all subsets of , including the are disjoint, then independence is clear. If and are

empty set and itself. independent, then

We then have a natural definition for completeness and the

following result follows from the discussion above.

Definition: A fuzzy probability theory is called complete if

it assigns a fuzzy probability to every set in the collection .

Proposition 1: The independent fuzzy probability theory

is incomplete. If and are not disjoint, at least one of the occurs

To develop a complete theory, we need to characterize those linearly (when the for are held fixed) in both ,

sets that can be reached through (1)–(3). , , and , , , . Thus, this occurs

Proposition 2: Suppose and are subsets of . Using quadratically in . This contradicts the result in (14)

the notation , and are independent if and so, in fact, the and must be disjoint subsequences

only if we can write , , , and of .

, , , for disjoint subsequences With this characterization of independence we can describe

and of . those sets for which a fuzzy probability can be calculated

Proof: In crisp probability theory, completeness is using (1)–(3). Consider a set that can be constructed

achieved for discrete probability spaces by use of additivity: through independent operations. Note that the set must be

if sets and are disjoint, . constructed through the binary operations of and as well

When this is applied to the discrete sample space as through use of complements. Because of the DeMorgan’s

we calculate the crisp probability of a relationships in (4), the expression for can be written

subset of by in terms of , , and sets , , , , , ,

without further need for complements. We can view such a

(11) by working backward through a binary tree of union and

intersection operations

Thus, every subset of the discrete is broken into a finite for some or

union of disjoint singleton sets and probabilities for all for some or (15)

subsets of are inherited from the list of probabilities for

each element of .

We will find it helpful to chose a specific ordering of the with independent of and

elements in . Consider, for in , the

-digit binary number , , , representing

or

(12)

for some or

With this binary number, we can pick an explicit ordering of for some or

the

with independent of

with or

when

(13) and

when .

for some or

Now, letting , we have

for some or

and for any set

or (16)

(14) as union with the empty set or intersection with ) from

Note that this is a multivariate polynomial in the and Proposition 2 we see that the fork in the binary tree splits

especially note that the highest power of each of the is one. a subsequence of into two pieces each with

290 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON FUZZY SYSTEMS, VOL. 7, NO. 2, APRIL 1999

branches before the tree terminates with an or at each (20)

branch.

Definition: We say that event can be organized as

an independent calculation if it can be written in the binary Using (19) and (20) and following (17)

tree pattern of (15) and (16).

Definition: For an event which can be orga-

nized as an independent calculation, we define as the

fuzzy probability theory resulting from repeated application

of (1)–(3).

Now we must build the definition of fuzzy probability for

subsets of from the given fuzzy probabilities , ,

Clearly, since , the uncertainty

, . Following Zadeh [11], we can define an extension

of (11). Consider a proper subset of a sample space in somehow grows when another independent

with where event is considered in the model. We have an

are the elements in that are in . Using a superscript inconsistency in the Zadeh model derived from independent

to indicate Zadeh’s extension we define probabilities.

We can now formally define a consistent model.

Definition: An independent fuzzy probability theory is

called consistent if it is a direct extension of (1)–(3).

By this, we mean that all calculations that may be orga-

nized as independent calculations may be calculated with

(1)–(3).

(17) From our example above, we immediately have the follow-

ing.

Proposition 3: Zadeh’s linguistic probabilities , when

The inequality in the is a result of the interactivity of derived from independent fuzzy probabilities , are incon-

crisp probabilities, since sistent.

OF INDEPENDENT FUZZY PROBABILITIES

Each is calculated from , , , using As an alternative to Zadeh’s approach, we consider a

independence and (1)–(3). Similarly, for we have different extension of (11). Consider a reliability model built

in terms of the independent fuzzy probabilities ,

, for sample space . Using (for crisp proba-

bilities) the definition , we see for

that

(18)

subset of . Unfortunately, (17) and (18) are not consistent

with the calculations in (1)–(3). This is easily illustrated with (22)

a simple example using . Then , ,

, . Note that .

Consider convex fuzzy probabilities and represented for a function . Thus, the crisp probability of every

by cuts , , and , . Then, from (3) and can be written uniquely as a function in

(7) terms of . For the empty set we have

and for the sample space we have

. We use these functions to build

our extension of (1)–(3). We can now define our extension

(19) for .

DUNYAK et al.: THEORY OF INDEPENDENT FUZZY PROBABILITY FOR SYSTEM RELIABILITY 291

Definition: For , the extension of independent Here, and are disjoint subsequences of

fuzzy probabilities is . Then

(23)

fixed , the set , , , : , , ,

is empty, we take . The function is defined

in (22).

Note that as long as the are normal fuzzy sets, then the

is normal. We also see that

and

ing result.

Proposition 4: Suppose and are independent subsets

of . Then

a)

(24) Continuing this pattern of calculations

b)

(25)

c)

(26)

follow in the same way. Consider

Proposition 5: The extension , when derived from in-

dependent fuzzy probabilities is both consistent and

complete.

Proof: Completeness is immediate since is defined

for every subset of . To see consistency, we note that

. From the representation of as a nested set of

independent operations, we establish consistency by repeatedly

applying Proposition 4.

292 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON FUZZY SYSTEMS, VOL. 7, NO. 2, APRIL 1999

in Proposition 5 hold for the model discussed in this paper;

in [2] and [5] we see that consistency cannot be guaranteed

in a more general setting.

For the special (but important) case of convex fuzzy prob- Fig. 3. (a) The fuzzy idleness coefficient and (b) the readiness coefficient

for a single unit.

abilities, we can represent a membership function in terms

of the left and right endpoints of its cuts. The following

theorem provides an important computational tool.

we see that the right-hand side of (28) is in and

Proposition 6: Suppose for that the crisp probabil-

when is greater than the right-hand side of (28). A simple

ity relationship is , , , and ,

continuity argument then shows that (27) and (28) hold.

as in (22). Assume are convex. Then is also convex

and with Note in (27) and (28) that any (computationally efficient)

crisp probability model may be used to implement .

Thus, Proposition 6 provides a simple technique to generalize

existing crisp reliability models.

We can implement the extended fuzzy probability for-

mula in a fully general and straightforward way. Consider

(27) subsets , , and of . Associate with the vector

with

and

(30)

.

(28) and . Then, for

in (22), we see that if and only if there is a

point in the hyper-rectangle ,

For

, , with

. Now let

For

Note from (14) that is affine in when

the are held fixed for . Then the minimum must occur

on a vertex of the hyper-rectangle . The binary numbers

make it convenient to represent the search over the vertices.

Finally, for each , we can associate a vector , , ,

, and

(32)

(29) .

If we evaluate at the vertex of which This formula makes use of the orderings of the in (13). Note

leads to the minimum , we get from (22) the right-hand side in these relationships that no assumptions of independence are

of (27). Thus, the right-hand side of (27) is in . If is less required. Using (31) and (32), complicated set relationships

than the right-hand side of (27), then . Following the represented as either formulas or diagrams can be easily

same argument for implemented. We then have the following formula.

Proposition 7: Suppose is represented by the

vector in (30) and the elements of are represented by

the in (12) and (13). Assume are convex. Then

DUNYAK et al.: THEORY OF INDEPENDENT FUZZY PROBABILITY FOR SYSTEM RELIABILITY 293

(d) (e)

Fig. 4. The resulting fuzzy probabilities for the process throughput (a) T = 0, (b) T = 0:4, (c) T = 0:5, (d) T = 0:8, and (e) T = 1.

is also convex and , with possible) of independence and Propositions 5 and 6 would be

required.

To demonstrate the technique, we consider the three stage

process discussed above and illustrated in Fig. 2. To demon-

strate the calculations, the event will be discussed.

Note from (10), using independence and additivity, that

(33)

illustration, all six independent units are assumed to have the

fuzzy readiness coefficient shown in Fig. 3. Fig. 4 shows the

resulting fuzzy probabilities for , , ,

, and . These fuzzy probabilities describe the

long-term performance of the industrial process.

REFERENCES

(34)

[1] H. Tanaka, C. Fan, F. Lai, and K. Toguchi, “Fault tree analysis by fuzzy

probability,” IEEE Trans. Reliability, vol. R-32, pp. 453–457, Dec. 1983.

Proof: This proposition follows immediately from [2] G. de Cooman, “Possibilistic previsions,” in IPMU 7th Int. Conf. Inform.

Processing Management of Uncertainty in Knowledge-Based Syst., Paris,

Proposition 6 and from (22): France, July 1998.

[3] Y. Pan and B. Yuan, “Bayesian inference with fuzzy probabilities,” Int.

J. Gen. Syst., to be published.

[4] P. Walley, Statistical Reasoning with Impercise Probabilities. London,

U.K.: Chapman Hall, 1991.

[5] P. Walley, “Statistical inferences based on second-order possibility

distribution,” Int. J. Gen. Syst., vol. 26, 1997.

[6] K. Y. Cai, “System failure and fuzzy methodology: An introductory

overview,” Fuzzy Sets Syst., vol. 83, pp. 113–133, 1996.

[7] P. V. Suresh, A. K. Babar, and V. V. Raj, “Uncertainty in fault tree

analysis: A fuzzy approach,” Fuzzy Sets Syst., vol. 83, pp. 135–141,

Although (31)–(34) are not particularly efficient in terms 1996.

of required storage and computations, they are very easy to [8] D. Singer, “A fuzzy set approach to fault tree and reliability analysis,”

implement and are practical to use for less than approxi- Fuzzy Sets Syst., vol. 34, pp. 145–155, 1990.

[9] H. Furuta and N. Shiraishi, “Fuzzy importance in fault tree analysis,”

mately ten. Note that only the fuzzy probability of the final Fuzzy Sets Syst., vol. 12, pp. 205–213, 1984.

answer needs be calculated. Intermediate fuzzy calculations [10] G. S. Liang and M. J. J. Wang, “Fuzzy fault tree analysis using failure

are not required. Also, these equations allow general convex possibility,” Microelectron. Reliability, vol. 33, pp. 587–597, 1993.

instead of restricting inputs to triangular, trapezoidal, [11] L. A. Zadeh, “The concept of a linguistic variable and its application to

approximate reasoning III,” Inform. Sci., vol. 8, pp. 199–249, 1975.

or some other form. For much larger problems, a more [12] R. Kenarangui, “Event-tree analysis by fuzzy probability,” IEEE Trans.

careful organization of calculations that takes advantage (when Reliability, vol. 40, pp. 120–124, Apr. 1991.

294 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON FUZZY SYSTEMS, VOL. 7, NO. 2, APRIL 1999

[13] D. Singer, “A fuzzy set approach to fault tree and reliability analysis,” Ihab W. Saad was born in 1971. He received

Fuzzy Sets Syst., vol. 34, pp. 145–155, 1990. the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Ain

[14] D. Weber, “Fuzzy fault tree analysis,” in Proc. 3rd IEEE Int. Conf. Fuzzy Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, in 1993, and the

Syst., Orlando, FL, June 1994, pp. 1899–1904. M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Texas

[15] J. A. Cooper, “Fuzzy-algebra uncertainty analysis of abnormal- Tech University, Lubbock, TX, in 1998.

environment safety assessment,” J. Intell. Fuzzy Syst., vol. 2, no. 4,

pp. 337–445, 1994.

[16] L. B. Page and J. E. Perry, “Standard deviation as an alternative to

fuzziness in fault tree models,” IEEE Trans. Reliability, vol. 43, pp.

402–407, Sept. 1994.

[17] J. P. Dunyak, I. W. Saad, and D. Wunsch, “Safety analysis of redundant

systems using probability theory,” in Proc. High Consequence Opera-

tions Safety Symp. II, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuequerque, NM,

July 1997.

[18] I. A. Ushakov, Handbook of Reliability Engineering. New York: Wi- Donald Wunsch (SM’94) received the degree in

ley, 1994. humanities (honors) from Seattle University, Seattle,

WA, in 1981, the B.S. degree (applied mathematics)

from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque,

in 1984, and the M.S. (applied mathematics) and

Ph.D. degrees (electrical engineering) from the Uni-

versity of Washington, Seattle, in 1987 and 1991,

respectively.

He is the Director of the Applied Computational

Intelligence Laboratory at Texas Tech University,

Lubbock, TX. Prior to joining Texas Tech in 1993,

James Dunyak was born on September 19, 1960. he was Senior Principal Scientist at Boeing, where he invented the first

He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in engi- optical implementation of the ART1 neural network, featured in the 1991

neering mechanics from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Annual Report, as well as other optical neural networks and applied research

VA, in 1982 and 1987, respectively, and the Ph.D. contributions. He has also worked for International Laser Systems and

degree in applied mathematics from the University Rockwell International, Seattle, WA. His current research activities include

of Maryland, College Park, in 1994. neural optimization, forecasting and control, financial engineering, fuzzy risk

From 1984 to 1992, he worked in systems engi- assessment for high-consequence surety, wind engineering, characterization of

neering from 1984 to 1985 for Locus Inc., Alexan- the cotton manufacturing process, intelligent agents, and computer automation

dria, VA, from 1985 to 1989 for the Naval Research of Go—an Asian board game. He is heavily involved in research collabora-

Laboratory, Washington, DC, and from 1989 to tions with former Soviet scientists.

1992 for the Mitre Corporation, McLean, VA. In Dr. Wunsch is an Academician in the International Academy of Techno-

1994 he took a position in the Department of Mathematics at Texas Tech logical Cybernetics and the International Informatization Academy, and is the

University, Lubbock, TX. His research interests include random processes recipient of the Halliburton Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research

and their application to a wide variety of engineering and physics problems, at Texas Tech. He is a member of the International Neural Network Society

fuzzy set theory as an alternate model of uncertainty, and neural networks. and a past member of the IEEE Neural Networks Council.

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