Statistics Seminars: Treatment of Epistemic Uncertainty in Risk Analysis: Implications for Risk-Informed Decision-Making
27 April 2011 14:15 in CM221
Quantitative risk assessments are an integral part of risk-informed regulation of current and future nuclear plants in the U.S. The Bayesian approach to uncertainty, in which both stochastic and epistemic uncertainties are represented with precise probability distributions, is the standard approach to modeling uncertainties in such quantitative risk assessments. However, there are long-standing criticisms of the Bayesian approach to epistemic uncertainty from many perspectives, and a number of alternative approaches have been proposed. Among these alternatives, the most promising (and most rapidly developing) would appear to be the concept of imprecise probability . In this colloquium, I will employ a performance indicator example to focus the discussion. I will first give a short overview of the traditional Bayesian paradigm and review some its controversial aspects, for example, issues with so-called noninformative prior distributions. I then discuss how the imprecise probability approach handles these issues and compare it with two other approaches: sensitivity analysis and hierarchical Bayes modeling. I conclude with some practical implications for risk-informed decision making and an overview of ongoing research.
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