Reliability of Structures, Second Edition

By Andrzej S. Nowak, Kevin R. Collins

© 2012 – CRC Press

407 pages | 200 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415675758
pub: 2012-12-20
US Dollars$109.95

Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

Reliability of Structures enables both students and practising engineers to appreciate how to value and handle reliability as an important dimension of structural design. It discusses the concepts of limit states and limit state functions, and presents methodologies for calculating reliability indices and calibrating partial safety factors. It also supplies information on the probability distributions and parameters used to characterize both applied loads and member resistances.

This revised and extended second edition contains more discussions of US and international codes and the issues underlying their development. There is significant revision and expansion of the discussion on Monte Carlo simulation, along with more examples.

The book serves as a textbook for a one-semester course for advanced undergraduates or graduate students, or as a reference and guide to consulting structural engineers. Its emphasis is on the practical applications of structural reliability theory rather than the theory itself. Consequently, probability theory is treated as a tool, and enough is given to show the novice reader how to calculate reliability. Some background in structural engineering and structural mechanics is assumed.

A solutions manual is available upon qualifying course adoption.


"This is a great book … easy to teach from; students can readily learn the theory from its beginnings to its practical applications; it is a course topic that will be of great value in understanding structural design during the professional life of the engineer; it is an invaluable tool to guide in the development of national design standards such as the AASHTO bridge design specification; it is logical and it is fun to go back to time and again."

—Theodore V. Galambos,Emeritus Professor, University of Minnesota

"… a must read for any engineer working in the civil engineering structures arena. … provides the necessary knowledge to give structural engineers the tools they need to make better designs a priori and determine structural failures a posteriori."

—Andrew D. Sorensen, Ph.D., Idaho State University,

"Compared to other textbooks in this area, Reliability of Structures is particularly easy to understand. … ideal for a first course in this topic, or if the classroom contains undergraduate students who might be otherwise lost in an advanced theoretical presentation. A particular strength is its discussion of design code development and calibration, perhaps the most important application of reliability analysis in structural engineering."

—Christopher Eamon,Wayne State University

Table of Contents



Objectives of the Book

Possible Applications

Historical Perspective

Uncertainties in the Building Process

Random Variables

Basic Definitions

Properties of Probability Functions (CDF, PDF, and PMF)

Parameters of a Random Variable

Common Random Variables

Probability Paper

Interpretation of Test Data Using Statistics

Conditional Probability

Random Vectors


Bayesian Updating


Functions of Random Variables

Linear Functions of Random Variables

Linear Functions of Normal Variables

Product of Lognormal Random Variables

Nonlinear Function of Random Variables

Central Limit Theorem


Simulation Techniques

Monte Carlo Methods

Latin Hypercube Sampling

Rosenblueth’s 2K + 1 Point Estimate Method

Structural Safety Analysis

Limit states

Fundamental Case

Reliability Index

Rackwitz–Fiessler Procedure

Reliability Analysis Using Simulation


Structural Load Models

Types of Load

General Load Models

Dead Load

Live Load in Buildings

Live Load for Bridges

Environmental Loads

Load Combinations


Models of rResistance

Parameters of Resistance

Steel Components

Aluminum Structures

Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete Components

Wood Components

Design Codes


Role of a Code in the Building Process

Code Levels

Code Development Procedure

Calibration of Partial Safety Factors for a Level I Code

Development of a Bridge Design Code

Example of the Code Calibration—ACI 318

Concluding Remarks


System Reliability

Elements and Systems

Series and Parallel Systems

Reliability Bounds for Structural Systems

Systems with Equally Correlated Elements

Systems with Unequally Correlated Elements



Uncertainties in the Building Process


Classification of Errors

Error Surveys

Approach to Errors

Sensitivity Analysis

Other Approaches


Appendix A: Acronyms

Appendix B: Values of the CDF Φ(z) for the Standard Normal Probability Distribution

Appendix C: Values of the Gamma Function



About the Authors

Andrzej S. Nowak is Robert W. Brightfelt Professor of Engineering at the University of Nebraska, USA. He has received the ASCE Moisseiff Award, the IFIP WG 7.5 Award, the Bene Merentibus Medal, and the Kasimir Gzowski Medal from the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers.

Kevin R. Collins is an Associate Professor at Valley Forge Military College, USA.

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