Ontological approach to fault tree development and exploration

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:

  1. Demonstrate that a given level of system safety has been achieved;
  2. 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.

We also recognise relevant industrial and academic experience. To be suitable for this project you will need one of the following:

  • Knowledge in ontological modelling and semantic web tools (if you have Computing background). Or
  • Knowledge of fault models (if you have Engineering background). Since the studentship will require close collaboration with industry, it is essential to have excellent communication skills combined with an ability to make independent individual progress under the guidance of the supervisors.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in a relevant Computing or Engineering subject.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements:

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the University of Leeds website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the 'Ontological Approach to Fault Tree Development and Exploration’ as well as Dr. Vania Dimitrova and Professor Anthony G. Cohn as your proposed supervisors. In the funding section, please state ‘EPSRC/Dstl’ as your sponsor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office
e: phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk, t: +44 (0)113 343 8000.