Publications / Conference

Quantification of margins and uncertainty for risk-informed decision analysis

Alvin, Kenneth F.

QMU stands for 'Quantification of Margins and Uncertainties'. QMU is a basic framework for consistency in integrating simulation, data, and/or subject matter expertise to provide input into a risk-informed decision-making process. QMU is being applied to a wide range of NNSA stockpile issues, from performance to safety. The implementation of QMU varies with lab and application focus. The Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program develops validated computational simulation tools to be applied in the context of QMU. QMU provides input into a risk-informed decision making process. The completeness aspect of QMU can benefit from the structured methodology and discipline of quantitative risk assessment (QRA)/probabilistic risk assessment (PRA). In characterizing uncertainties it is important to pay attention to the distinction between those arising from incomplete knowledge ('epistemic' or systematic), and those arising from device-to-device variation ('aleatory' or random). The national security labs should investigate the utility of a probability of frequency (PoF) approach in presenting uncertainties in the stockpile. A QMU methodology is connected if the interactions between failure modes are included. The design labs should continue to focus attention on quantifying uncertainties that arise from epistemic uncertainties such as poorly-modeled phenomena, numerical errors, coding errors, and systematic uncertainties in experiment. The NNSA and design labs should ensure that the certification plan for any RRW is supported by strong, timely peer review and by an ongoing, transparent QMU-based documentation and analysis in order to permit a confidence level necessary for eventual certification.