Roots of Quantitative Risk Assessment

Publication Date Jan 31, 2008 by Garrick B.J.

A replication of Appendix A of the book "Quantifying and Controlling Catastrophic Risks," Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2008, by B.J. Garrick, et al.

The general framework of quantitative risk assessment presented in this book is based on the “set of triplets” definition of risk. The triplet refers to scenarios, consequences, and likelihoods. In Chapters 1 and 2 we are explicit on the meaning given to “likelihood.” The concept is illustrated in the case studies (Chapters 3 through 6). From a methodology standpoint, calculating likelihoods, or probabilities, is the central issue in “quantifying” risk. From an application perspective, the most important exercise is the structuring of the scenarios. Thus, when we consider the roots of quantitative risk assessment most of the attention is on calculating likelihoods and structuring scenarios. Calculating likelihoods primarily evolved in the fields of mathematics and mathematical physics and has a history of several hundred years. On the other hand, the formal process of structuring scenarios is a much more recent discipline developed primarily by engineers involved in designing and analyzing complex systems evolving from 20th century technology. For example, the discipline of reliability analysis and engineering has made a significant contribution to the development of integrated models of engineered systems, including the development of a variety of graphical methods for displaying interdependencies of components, subsystems, and systems.

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