Assessing the Reliability of Diverse Fault-Tolerant Systems

by Bev Littlewood, Peter Popov, Lorenzo Strigini
presented at INuCE'2000, International Conference on Control and Instrumentation in Nuclear Installations, Bristol, UK, 2000.

Design diversity between redundant channels is a way of improving the dependability of software-based systems, but it does not alleviate the difficulties of dependability assessment. Assuming failure independence between channels is unrealistic. Using statistical evidence from realistic testing, standard inference procedures can estimate system reliability, but they take no advantage of a systemís fault-tolerant structure. We show how to extend these techniques to take account of fault tolerance by a conceptually straightforward application of Bayesian inference. Unfortunately, the method is computationally complex and requires the conceptually difficult step of specifying 'prior' distributions for the parameters of interest. This paper presents the correct inference procedure, exemplifies possible pitfalls in its application and clarifies some non-intuitive issues about reliability assessment for fault-tolerant software.

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