This series includes technical reports prepared by faculty, students and staff who are associated with the John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center at Stanford University. While the primary focus of Blume Center is earthquake engineering, many of the reports in this series encompass broader topics in structural engineering and materials, computational mechanics, geomechanics, structural health monitoring, and engineering life-cycle risk assessment. Each report includes acknowledgments of the specific sponsors for the report and underlying research. In addition to providing research support, the Blume Center provides administrative support for maintaining and disseminating the technical reports. For more information about the Blume Center and its activities, see https://blume.stanford.edu.
If the strength of a structure, built as designed, could be predicted with precision, and if the loads and their internal effects (moments, shears, axial forces, etc.) were known with equal precision, then safety could be assured by providing a carrying capacity just barely in excess of the known loads. Unfortunately future loads as well as future structural performance cannot be predicted with certainty; yet the decisions of structural design must be made now. What rationale can one follow to assure himself that the decisions he is taking today are really most consistent with his experience, judgement, and scale of preferences? A Bayesian approach provides this rationale for making decisions under uncertainties. That level of structural safety should be considered to be necessary and sufficient at which the expected utilities are maximized. Expressing investments and failure losses in monetary terms, the criterion of maximizing expected utilities is reduced to that of minimizing total generalized costs.
Kulkarni, RB. (1975). Decision of Optimal Structural Safety. John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center Technical Report 19. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at: http://purl.stanford.edu/qv334fm8601
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