Ontological Approach to Fault Tree and Failure Modes Effects Analysis Develpoment and Exploration

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Computing


The overall aim is to develop a prototype FTA/FMEA tool using Semantic Web technologies capable of:
- Expressing the underlying generic structural model as an ontology;
- Enable the specific fault trees and component FMEAs to be expressed using this generic ontology along with the related environmental factors specific to a particular environment;
- Enable structural and environmental sensitivity analysis to be performed through computer aided means - such as inferring hidden component / system relationships.

To achieve this the student will need to:

1. Gain an understanding of the engineering and military needs and contexts. This should include conducting two or more real-world case studies such as:
- A hazard analysis that is being used to support certification arguments
- a safely enhancement argument related to a context such as Traffic Collision Avoidance.
- An analysis of an incident due to a common cause failure such as that attributed to the recent A400M crash.
- A Risk to life Analysis required for a flying combat aircraft.

Such case studies could form the domain related foundation for later development and experiments.

2. Establish the requirements of an underlying generic model for FMEA, FTA and related processes such as Risk to Life analysis.

3. Develop an ontological model to represent these requirements. Depending on the outcome of (1) this could modify and enhance the core NeTTUN ontology.

4. For a target system (e.g. an aircraft sub-system) where a model has already been completed, redevelop the model as an ontology based on the core ontology and integrated components necessary to express environmental factors.

5. Develop a tool that enables the model to be explored and machine assistance given such as suggesting common failure modes, and where implicit relationships can be revealed and either verified or retracted.

6. Re-test at platform level to explore the degree to which the approach is scalable.

7. Verify the correctness of the outcomes.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/P510555/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2021
1939336 Studentship EP/P510555/1 30/09/2017 31/12/2021 Paul Simon Brown
Title STAMP Ontology 
Description An Ontology for use with STPA and CAST, capable of supporting system safety analysis. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet published, but used in a prototype application providing support to analysts. Can generate terms, identify pertinent things, self-reflect, aid communication and re-use. 
Title Situation Ontology 
Description An ontological model for reasoning about transitions between situations 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It is required for the STAMP ontology, once published it will be useful in other domains also. 
Title Prototype STPA support analysis 
Description Prototype of STPA analysis software exploiting the STAMP ontology and contingent scaffolding pedagogical framework to provide support to an analyst to be used in evaluating the efficaciousness of the combination when applied by non-experts in a creative, poorly defined domain. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact A Situation Calculus interpreter capable of use with the many worlds design pattern made available in Logtalk and can be used with Prolog. Evaluation has yet to be conducted.