Propagation of aleatory and epistemic uncertainties in the model for the design of a flood protection dike

Abstract : Traditionally, probability distributions are used in risk analysis to represent the uncertainty associated to random (aleatory) phenomena. The parameters (e.g., their mean, variance, ...) of these distributions are usually affected by epistemic (state-of-knowledge) uncertainty, due to limited experience and incomplete knowledge about the phenomena that the distributions represent: the uncertainty framework is then characterized by two hierarchical levels of uncertainty. Probability distributions may be used to characterize also the epistemic uncertainty affecting the parameters of the probability distributions. However, when sufficiently informative data are not available, an alternative and proper way to do this might be by means of possibilistic distributions. In this paper, we use probability distributions to represent aleatory uncertainty and possibility distributions to describe the epistemic uncertainty associated to the poorly known parameters of such probability distributions. A hybrid method is used to hierarchically propagate the two types of uncertainty. The results obtained on a risk model for the design of a flood protection dike are compared with those of a traditional, purely probabilistic, two-dimensional (or double) Monte Carlo approach. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first time that a hybrid Monte Carlo and possibilistic method is tailored to propagate the uncertainties in a risk model when the uncertainty framework is characterized by two hierarchical levels. The results of the case study show that the hybrid approach produces risk estimates that are more conservative than (or at least comparable to) those obtained by the two-dimensional Monte Carlo method.
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Nicola Pedroni, Enrico Zio, Elisa Ferrario, Alberto Pasanisi, Mathieu Couplet. Propagation of aleatory and epistemic uncertainties in the model for the design of a flood protection dike. PSAM 11 & ESREL 2012, Jun 2012, Helsinki, Finland. pp.1-10. ⟨hal-00721090⟩

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