Test plan allocation to minimize system reliability estimation variability

Jose E. Ramirez-Marquez, David Coit, Tongdan Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


A new methodology is presented to allocate testing units to the different components within a system when the system configuration is fixed and there are budgetary constraints limiting the amount of testing. The objective is to allocate additional testing units so that the variance of the system reliability estimate, at the conclusion of testing, will be minimized. Testing at the component-level decreases the variance of the component reliability estimate, which then decreases the system reliability estimate variance. The difficulty is to decide which components to test given the system-level implications of component reliability estimation. The results are enlightening because the components that most directly affect the system reliability estimation variance are often not those components with the highest initial uncertainty. The approach presented here can be applied to any system structure that can be decomposed into a series-parallel or parallel-series system with independent component reliability estimates. It is demonstrated using a series-parallel system as an example. The planned testing is to be allocated and conducted iteratively in distinct sequential testing runs so that the component and system reliability estimates improve as the overall testing progresses. For each run, a nonlinear programming problem must be solved based on the results of all previous runs. The testing allocation process is demonstrated on two examples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-272
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Reliability, Quality and Safety Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Optimal test allocation
  • Series-parallel system
  • System reliability variance

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