PhD Studentship - Ontological approach to fault tree development and exploration

University of Leeds

Funded PhD project: UK only

Value: Funding covers the cost of fees at £4,250 and provides a maintenance of £14,553 (in Session 2017/18). Funding duration is 4 years (subject to satisfactory progress).

An additional annual top up of at least £3000 will be provided, subject to performance.

Number of awards: 1

Deadline: 31 August 2017

Supervisors: Contact Dr Vania Dimitrova and Professor Anthony Cohn to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

The PhD is supported by the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The PhD should start no later than Oct 2017.

Within the engineering world there are a number of well-established methods that aid the detection of faults and their consequences during the design phase. These include Fault tree analysis (FTA) and Failure Mode & Criticality Analysis (FMECA). These are well established and typically used where high systems’ dependability is required such as in safety-critical systems. Specifically they can be used to:

Demonstrate that a given level of system safety has been achieved;

Provide understanding on how best to make trade-offs at the system level. This is important in showing that system-level risks are As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).

Both FMEA and FTA are supported by commercial tools. These tools have not changed in any fundamental way since the 1980’s. However the complexity of systems under analysis has increased significantly. Whilst the use of existing tools is still relevant there are opportunities to apply newer technologies to provide enhanced tools that are better able to assist the analyst. One such set of technologies is that associated with the Semantic Web.

In this context, this PhD aims to investigate the ontological representation of engineering systems and components and the means and consequences of failure. Furthermore, it seeks to understand how such an ontological representation can be used to help reveal other possible failure modes and consequences that the analyst may have missed. Dstl are interested in the application of these tools to aid the certification of safety-critical systems such as those associated with aircraft.

If successful, the PHD could lead to the development of open source tools.

The successful candidate will be based at the School of Computing, joining the Artificial Intelligence group. The group has strong traditions in knowledge capture and ontological modelling, and the candidate will become part of a vibrant research team alongside relevant EU or UK projects. The PhD studentship requires that the candidate spends some time based at the Dstl Portsdown West site in Fareham. The PhD project will be supervised by Dr. Vania Dimitrova and Professor Anthony G. Cohn from the University of Leeds and Dr. Glen Hart from Dstl.

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Northern England