Welcome to Reliability Engineering
Welcome to Prof. Dr. A. Birolini

Alessandro Birolini, Reliability Engineering: Theory and Practice (Springer-Verlag, 7th Ed., 2014, 626 pp., 1st Ed. 1994, 500 pp.)

ISBN 978-3-642-39534-5 & -39535-2 (eBook)

Content

1. Basic Concepts, Quality & Reliability (RAMS) Assurance of Complex Equip. & Systems (24 pp.)
2. Reliability Analysis During the Design Phase (Nonrepairable Items) (56 pp.)
3. Qualification Tests for Components and Assemblies (31 pp.)
4. Maintainability Analysis (32 pp.)
5. Design Guidelines for Reliability, Maintainability & Software Quality (25 pp.)
6. Reliability & Availability of Repairable Systems (130 pp.)
7. Statistical Quality Control and Reliability Tests (58 pp.)
8. Quality & Reliability (RAMS) Assurance During the Production Phase (16 pp.)
A1. Terms and Definitions (14 pp.)
A2. Quality and Reliability (RAMS) Standards (4 pp.)
A3. Definition and Realization of Quality & Reliability (RAMS) Requirements (14 pp.)
A4. Checklists for Design Reviews (5 pp.)
A5. Requirements for Quality Data Reporting Systems (3 pp.)
A6. Basic Probability Theory (47 pp.)
A7. Basic Stochastic-Processes Theory (65 pp.)
A8. Basic Mathematical Statistics (36 pp.)
A9. Tables and Charts (11 pp.)
A10. Basic Technological Component's Properties (4 pp.)
A11. Problems for Home-Work (6 pp.)
Acronyms (1 p.), References (22 pp.), Index (22 pp.)

First Page
  • "La chance vient à l'esprit qui est prêt à la recevoir." Louis Pasteur
  • "Quand on aperçoit combien la somme de nos ignorances dépasse celle de nos connaissances, on se sent peu porté à conclure trop vite." Louis De Broglie
  • "One has to learn to consider causes rather than symptoms of undesirable events and avoid hypocritical attitudes." Alessandro Birolini

Book Cover

This book shows how to build in, evaluate, and demonstrate reliability and availability of components, equipment, systems. It presents the state-of-the-art of reliability engineering, both in theory and practice, and is based on the author's more than 30 years experience in this field, half in industry and half as Professor of Reliability Engineering at the ETH, Zurich. The structure of the book allows rapid access to practical results. This final edition extend and replace all previous editions. New are, in particular, a strategy to mitigate incomplete coverage, a comprehensive introduction to human reliability with design guidelines and new models, and a refinement of reliability allocation, design guidelines for maintainability, and concepts related to regenerative stochastic processes. The set of problems for homework has been extended. Methods & tools are given in a way that they can be tailored to cover different reliability requirement levels and be used for safety analysis. Because of the Appendices A6 - A8, the book is also self contained from a mathematical point of view, and can be used as a text book or as a desktop reference, with a large number of tables (60), figures (190), and examples (210 of which 70 as problems for homework) to support the practical aspects.

From a book review to 4th Ed. (Rel. Newsletter 50(2004)3, Aug. 2004):
"All in all, Professor Birolini has given readers an excellent instructional tool and desktop reference. It is extremely well written. The span of topics makes the coverage of some topics necessarily brief. Professor Birolini presents much of the non-statistical information in a manner that could be understood easily by engineering and program managers as well as reliability experts. He discusses the statistical topics in the proper amount of detail to ensure at least a good basic understanding. Tables, illustrations, and examples amply support the text."
Kenneth P. LaSala, Ph.D. (See Rel. Newsletter 57(2011)1, Feb. 2011 for a book review to the 6th Ed.)

From a book review to 6th Ed. (Proc. CCF2010, Sinaia (RO).22-24 Sept. 2010):
"With the ability, patience and talent of a Swiss jeweler, Professor Birolini has polished this book to perfection for over 25 years. And the result is a real jewel, with an infinite value for both theory and practice in the field of Reliability; a true Bible for this domain."
Prof. Ioan C. Bacivarov, Ph.D.

Preface to the 7th Edition

The large interest granted to the 6th edition (over 2000 on-line requests per year) incited me for a 7th and last edition of this book (11 editions with the 4 German editions 1985-97).

The book shows how to build in, evaluate, and demonstrate reliability, maintainability, and availability of components, equipment, and systems. It presents the state-of-the-art of reliability engineering, both in theory and practice, and is based on the author's more than 30 years experience in this field, half in industry (part of which in setting up the Swiss Test. Lab. for VLSI, 1979-83 in Neuchâtel) and half as Professor of Reliability Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich. Considering that performance, dependability, cost, and time to market are key factors for today's products and services, but also that failure of complex systems can have major safety consequences, reliability engineering becomes a necessary support in developing and producing complex equipment and systems.

The structure of the book has been conserved through all editions, with main Chapters 1 to 8 and Appendices A1 to A11 (A10 & A11 since the 5th Edition 2007). Chapters 2, 4, and 6 deal carefully with analytical investigations, Chapter 5 with design guidelines, Chapters 3 and 7 with tests, and Chapter 8 with activities during production. Appendix A1 defines and comment on the terms commonly used in reliability engineering. Appendices A2-A5 have been added to support managers in answering the question of how to specify and achieve high reliability (RAMS) targets for complex equipment and systems. Appendices A6-A8 are a compendium of probability theory, stochastic processes, and mathematical statistics, as necessary for Chapters 2, 4, 6, and 7, consistent from a mathematical point of view but still with reliability engineering applications in mind (demonstration of established theorems is referred, and for all other propositions or equations, sufficient details for complete demonstration are given). Appendix A9 includes statistical tables, Laplace transforms, and probability charts. Appendix A10 resumes basic technological component's properties, and Appendix A11 gives a set of 70 problems for homework.

This structure makes the book self contained as a text book for postgraduate students or courses in industry (Fig. 1.9 on p. 24), allows a rapid access to practical results (as a desktop reference), and offers to theoretically oriented readers all mathematical tools to continue research in this field.

The book covers many aspects of reliability engineering using a common language, and has been improved step by step. Methods & tools are given in a way that they can be tailored to cover different reliability requirement levels, and be used for safety analysis too. A large number of tables (60), figures (190), and examples (210 of which 70 as problems for homework), as well as comprehensive reference list and index, amply support the text. This last edition reviews, refines, and extends all previous editions. New in particular includes:

  • A strategy to mitigate incomplete coverage (p. 255), yielding new models (Table 6.12c & d, p. 256).
  • A comprehensive introduction to human reliability with a set of design guidelines to avoid human errors (pp. 158-159) and new models combining human errors probability and time to accomplish a task, based on semi-Markov processes (pp. 294-298).
  • An improvement of the design guidelines for maintainability (pp. 154-158).
  • An improvement of reliability allocation using Lagrange multiplier to consider cost aspects (p. 67).
  • A comparison of four repair strategies (Table 4.4, p. 141).
  • A comparison of basic models for imperfect switching (Table 6.11, p. 248).
  • A refinement of approximate expressions, of concepts related to regenerative processes, and of the use and limitations of stochastic processes in modeling reliability problems (e.g. Table 6.1, p.171).
  • New is also that relevant statements and rules have been written cursive and centered on the text.

Furthermore,

  • Particular importance has been given to the selection of design guidelines and rules, the development of approximate expressions for large series-parallel systems, the careful simplification of exact results to allow in-depth trade off studies, and the investigation of systems with complex structure (preventive maintenance, imperfect switching, incomplete coverage, elements with more than one failure mode, fault tolerant reconfigurable systems, common cause failures).
  • The central role of software quality assurance for complex equipment and systems is highlighted.
  • The use of interarrival times starting by x = 0 at each occurrence of the event considered, instead of the variable t, giving a sense to MTBF and allowing the introduction of a failure rate λ(x) and a mean time to failure MTTF also for repairable systems, is carefully discussed (pp. 5-6, 41, 175, 316, 341, 378, 380) and consequently applied. Similar is for the basic difference between failure rate, (probability) density, and renewal density or intensity of a point process (pp. 7, 378, 426, 466, 524). In this context, the assumption as-good-as-new after repair is critically discussed wherever necessary, and the historical distinction between nonrepairable and repairable items is scaled down (removed for reliability function, failure rate, MTTF, and MTBF); national and international standards should better consider this fact and avoid definitions intrinsically valid only for constant (time independent) failure rates.
  • Also valid is the introduction since the 1st edition of indices Si for reliability figures at system level (e. g. MTTFSi), where S stands for system and i is the state entered at t = 0 (system referring to the highest integration level of the item considered, and t = 0 being the beginning of observations, x = 0 for interarrival times). This is mandatory for judicious investigations at the system level.
  • In agreement with the practical applications, MTBF is reserved for MTBF = 1 / λ.
  • Important prerequisites for accelerated tests are carefully discussed (pp. 329-334), in particular to transfer an acceleration factor A from the MTTF (MTTF1 = AMTTF2) to the (random) failure-free time τ (τ1 = A⋅τ2).
  • Asymptotic & steady-state is used for stationary, by assuming irreducible embedded chains; repair for restoration, by neglecting administrative, logistical, technical delays; mean for expected value. For reliability applications, pairwise independence assures, in general, totally (mutually, statistically, stochastically) independence, independent is thus used for totally independent.

The book has growth from about 400 to 600 pages, with main improvements in the 4th to 7th Editions.

  • 4th Edition: Complete review and general refinements.
  • 5th Edition: Introduction to phased-mission systems, common cause failures, Petri nets, dynamic FTA, nonhomogeneous Poisson processes, and trend tests; problems for homework.
  • 6th Edition: Proof of Eqs. (6.88) & (6.94), introduction to network reliability, event trees & binary decision diagrams, extensions of maintenance strategies and incomplete coverage, refinements for large complex systems and approximate expressions.

The launching of the 6th Edition of this book coincided with my 70th anniversary, this was celebrated with a special Session at the 12th Int. Conf. on Quality and Dependability CCF2010 held in Sinaia (RO), 22-24 September 2010. My response to the last question at the interview given to Prof. Dr. Ioan C. Bacivarov, Chairman of the International Scientific Committee of CCF2010, can help to explain the acceptance of this book:

"Besides more than 15 years experience in the industry, and a predisposition to be a self-taught man, my attitude to life was surely an important key for the success of my book. This is best expressed in the three sentences given on the first page of this book. These sentences, insisting on generosity, modesty and responsibility apply quite general to a wide class of situations and people, from engineers to politicians, and it is to hope that the third sentence, in particular, will be considered by a growing number of humans, now, in front of the ecological problems we are faced and in front of the necessity to create a federal world wide confederation of democratic states in which freedom is primarily respect for the other ."

The comments of many friends and the agreeable cooperation with Springer-Verlag are gratefully acknowledged. Looking back to all editions (1st German 1985), thanks are due, in particular, to K.P. LaSala for reviewing the 4th & 6th Editions, I.C. Bacivarov for reviewing the 6th Edition, book reviewers of the German editions, P. Franken and I. Kovalenko for commenting Appendices A6-A8, A. Bobbio F. Bonzanigo, M. Held for supporting numerical evaluations, J. Thalhammer for supporting the edition of all figures, and L. Lambert for reading final manuscripts.

Zurich and Florence, September 13, 2013
Alessandro Birolini

Review of Reliability Engineering: Theory and Practice (4th Ed.), in Rel. Newsletter 50(2004)3, Aug. 2004

by
Kenneth P. LaSala, Ph.D.
KPL Systems

All in all, Professor Birolini has given readers an excellent instructional tool and desktop reference. It is extremely well written. The span of topics makes the coverage of some topics necessarily brief. Professor Birolini presents much of the non-statistical information in a manner that could be understood easily by engineering and program managers as well as reliability experts. He discusses the statistical topics in the proper amount of detail to ensure at least a good basic understanding. Tables, illustrations, and examples amply support the text.

Review of Reliability Engineering: Theory and Practice (6th Ed.), in Rel. Newsletter 57(2011)1, Feb. 2011

by
Kenneth P. LaSala, Ph.D.
KPL Systems

Professor Dr. Alessandro Birolini of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland, has published the sixth edition of his excellent book entitled Reliability Engineering: Theory and Practice.  This is a very readable book that is suitable as both an instructional text and a reference.  This reviewer highly recommends this book.

This edition follows the general format of the previous editions: eight chapters and eleven appendices.  The chapters address:

  1. Basic concepts, Quality and Reliability Assurance of Complex Equipment & Systems
  2. Reliability Analysis During the Design Phase
  3. Qualification Tests for Components and Assemblies
  4. Maintainability Analysis
  5. Design Guidelines for Reliability, Maintainability, and Software Quality
  6. Reliability and Availability of Repairable Systems
  7. Statistical Quality Control and Reliability Tests
  8. Quality and Reliability Assurance During the Production Phase

The appendices address:

  1. Terms and Definitions
  2. Quality and Reliability Standards
  3. Definition and Realization of Quality and Reliability Requirements
  4. Checklists for Design Reviews
  5. Requirements for Quality Data Reporting Systems
  6. Basic Probability Theory
  7. Basic Stochastic-Processes Theory
  8. Basic Mathematical Statistics
  9. Tables and Charts
  10. Basic Technological Component's Properties
  11. Problems for Homework

There are also a brief list of Acronyms and comprehensive References and Index sections.

This edition reviews, refines, and extends the previous editions.  In particular, it includes an introduction to network reliability, binary decision diagrams, events trees, and basic considerations for large, complex systems.  The edition expands the examination of maintenance strategies, by considering also the effects of travel times for repair and redundant configurations with more than one repair crew.  There is an important discussion on the distinction between failure rate and density or intensity of a point process, as well as on the concepts of as-good-as-new and as-bad-as-old.  Also, this edition presents a simple proof that a repairable 1-out-of-2 redundancy with constant failure and repair rates behaves almost like a one item with constant failure and repair rates.  Finally, it includes basic design rules for lead-free soldering and examines the application of an acceleration factor directly to failure free times in accelerated testing.

This book treats both basic and sophisticated reliability concepts extremely well.  Descriptions are concise, yet quite sufficient.  It uses mathematics when necessary to convey or quantify important concepts.  Several of the appendices provide the mathematical and statistical underpinnings of the reliability discipline.  Moving such information to appendices allows the author to maintain the flow of important programmatic and analytical concepts without being bogged down in mathematical details.  The author should be congratulated for his approach.

In many places, the book describes the interconnections among reliability, maintainability, and availability.  It describes the interconnection in a sophisticated analytical manner in its comprehensive treatment of repairable systems.  There are design guidelines for maintainability and testability, although these are somewhat brief.  What is particularly good is that the impact of travel time for maintenance receives the consideration that it deserves.  Too often, systems are designed without adequate consideration of the travel time that is involved in maintenance actions.  Also carefully considered in the book are statistical reliability tests.

This reviewer found all of the parts of this book easy to read and appropriately supported with figures, tables, examples, and problems for homework.  There is a very helpful table on basic technological component properties.  This table, in Appendix A10, includes failure modes and component sensitivities that make the table a ready reference for designers and test engineers. Although not in tabular format, the checklists for design review provide useful starting points for the design reviews of systems in the different phases of development.  A reader could consider these checklists as starting lists that could be expanded to suit the particular phase of development and the particular nature of the system under review.

For those like the reviewer, who has an active interest in the “front end” of system development, the text includes a short section on reliability allocation, an activity that often does not receive sufficient attention during system design.  The described allocation method is a simple one that is adequate for many purposes, but there also is mention of reliability optimization.  In a subsequent edition, the author might expand the treatment of reliability allocation to the problem of allocating reliability subject to various types of constraints that might encountered in real-world system developments. 

The physics of failures are addressed through sections on the failure mechanisms and failure analysis of electronic components.  The procedure for failure analysis is illustrated in a very nice flow chart.  The failure mechanisms section includes a table of basic failure mechanisms of integrated circuits in plastic packages.  While a physics-of-failure specialist might realize that the presentation of the topic is necessarily introductory, most reliability practitioners will find the presentation adequate for many circumstances, especially when they also consider the aforementioned Appendix A10.

System reliability is governed within the system itself by the reliability and quality of the hardware and software and the reliable performance of the humans associated with the system.  Although the text acknowledges the possibility of human errors in several places, it focuses on hardware and software and does not provide a treatment of the role of human performance reliability in operation and maintenance.  As mentioned above, there are brief maintainability design guidelines that could reduce human errors in maintenance.  Although systems are becoming more and more automated, it will be several decades at least before humans are completely eliminated from system operation.  Even with advent completely automated system operation, the subject of designing to reduce maintenance-induced failures will require attention.  It will be interesting to see if the author will address the reliable human performance in operation and maintenance in future editions.

This reviewer recommends this text highly to reliability practitioners and students.  He thanks Professor Dr. Birolini for the opportunity to review the book and for providing the review copy.

Review of Reliability Engineering: Theory & Practice (6th Ed.), in Proc. 12th int. Conf. on Quality & Dependability (CCF2010), Sinaia (RO), 22-24 Sept. 2010

SPECIAL SESSION
In Honor of
Professor Emeritus Alessandro Birolini, PhD
at his 70th anniversary

Prof. Ioan C. BACIVAROV, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief "Asigurarea Calităţii - Quality Assurance"
Editor-for-Europe "Quality Engineering" (USA)

As mentioned Professor Alessandro Birolini in the Preface of his monumental book Reliability Engineering: Theory And Practice, performance, dependability, cost, and time to market are key factors for today's products and services. However, failure of complex systems can have major safety consequences. Reliability engineering can help.

Consequently, in the vision of Prof. Birolini, the purpose of this book is to develop methods and tools to evaluate and demonstrate reliability, maintainability, availability, and safety of components, equipment & systems, and to support development and production engineers in building in these characteristics.

To build in reliability, maintainability, and safety into complex systems, failure rate and failure mode analyses must be performed early in the development phase and be supported (as far as possible) by failure mechanism analysis, design guidelines, and design reviews. Before production, qualification tests are necessary to verify that targets have been achieved. In the production phase, processes have to be qualified and monitored to assure the required quality level.

For many systems, availability requirements have to be met and stochastic processes are used to investigate and optimize reliability and availability, including logistical support as well.

Software often plays a dominant role, requiring specific quality assurance activities.

Finally, to be cost and time effective, reliability engineering has to be coordinated with quality management (TQM) efforts, including value engineering and concurrent engineering, as appropriate.

This book presents the state-of-the-art of reliability engineering in theory and practice. It is a textbook based on the author's experience of 30 years in this field, half in industry and as founder of the Swiss Test Laboratory for VLSI ICs in Neuchâtel, and half as Professor (full since 1992) of Reliability Engineering at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich. It also reflects the experience gained in an effective cooperation between University and industry over 10 years with more than 30 medium and large industries.

Following Chapter 1, the book is structured in three parts:

  1. Chapters 2 - 8 deal with reliability, maintainability, and availability analysis and test, with emphasis on practical aspects in Chapters 3, 5, and 8. This part answers the question of how to build in, evaluate, and demonstrate reliability, maintainability, and availability.
  2. Appendices A1 - A5 deal with definitions, standards, and program plans for quality and reliability assurance / management of complex systems. This minor part of the book has been added to comment on definitions and standards, and to support managers in answering the question of how to specify and achieve high reliability targets for complex systems, when tailoring is not mandatory.
  3. Appendices A6 - A11 give a comprehensive introduction to probability theory, stochastic processes, and statistics, as needed in Chapters 2, 6, and 7, respectively. Markov, semi-Markov, and semi-regenerative processes are introduced with a view developed by the author. This part is addressed to system oriented engineers.
  4. Methods and tools are presented in a way that they can be tailored to cover different levels of reliability requirements (the reader has to select this level). Investigation of repairable systems is performed systematically for many of the structures occurring in practical applications, starting with constant failure and repair rates and generalizing step by step up to the case in which the process involved is regenerative with a minimum number of regeneration states.

    For large series - parallel systems, approximate expressions for reliability and availability are developed in depth, in particular using macro structures as introduced by the author in 1991. Procedures to investigate repairable systems with complex structure (for which a reliability block diagram often does not exist) are given as further application of the tools introduced in Appendix A7, in particular for imperfect switching, incomplete fault coverage, elements with more than two states, phased-mission systems, and fault tolerant reconfigurable systems with reward & frequency / duration aspects. New design rules have been added for imperfect switching and incomplete coverage. A Monte Carlo approach useful for rare events is given. Spare parts provisioning is discussed for decentralized and centralized logistical support. Estimation and demonstration of a constant failure rate λ and statistical evaluation of general reliability data are considered in depth. Qualification tests and screening for components and assemblies are discussed in detail. Methods for causes-to-effects analysis, design guidelines for reliability, maintainability & software quality, and checklists for design reviews are considered carefully. Cost optimization is investigated for some practical applications. Standards and trends in quality management are discussed. A large number of tables, figures, and examples support practical aspects.

    It is emphasized that care is necessary in statistical analysis of reliability data (in particular for accelerated tests and reliability growth), causes-to-effects analysis should be performed systematically at least where redundancy appears (also to support remote maintenance), and further efforts should be done for developing approximate expressions for complex repairable systems as well as models for fault tolerant systems with hardware and software.

    Most of the methods & tools given in this book can be used to investigate / improve safety as well, which no longer has to be considered separately from reliability (although modeling human aspects can lead to some difficulties). The same is for processes and services reliability.

    The book has been used for many years (beginning with the 1st German edition - 1985, Springer) as a textbook for three semesters beginning graduate students at the ETH Zurich and for courses aimed at engineers in industry. The basic course (Chapters 1, 2, 5 & 7, with introduction to Chapters 3, 4, 6 & 8) should belong to the curriculum of most engineering degrees, considers the author.

    The large interest granted to this book by the community of reliability students and engineers (which consider this book as veritable “Bible of Reliability”) made necessary six successive editions in English, all published by the well-known publishing house Springer. The basic structure of the book has been conserved through all editions, with main Chapters 1 to 8 and Appendices A1 to A9 (A10 & A11 since the 5th edition), allowing a rapid access to the practical results. But, it is important to mention that content of this book has been extended, reviewed and improved by the author for each new edition. New models & considerations have been added for each successive new edition.

    All in all, the book of Professor Birolini is an excellent one, which can be highly recommended for both academia and industry as a veritable guide to the interdisciplinary field which is reliability.

    New for the 6th edition in English of this book are the proof that a repairable 1-out-of-2 redundancy with constant failure and repair rates behaves almost like a one item with constant failure and repair rates, an introduction to network reliability, event trees and binary decision diagrams, a comprehensive interpretation of concepts like MTBF, failure rate, failure intensity, good as-new & bad-as-old, and some extensions to maintenance strategies, incomplete coverage, investigation methods for large complex systems & approximate expressions. The sets of examples and problems for home-work have been extended. Methods & tools are given in a way that they can be tailored to cover different reliability requirement levels and be used for safety analysis.

    The 6th edition in English of the book Reliability Engineering: Theory And Practice - published by Springer in September 2010 - will be launched during the 12th International Conference on Quality and Dependability CCF2010, organized in Sinaia, Romania. The event will be organized on 23 September 2010, during the special session "Homage to Professor Emeritus Alessandro Birolini at his 70th anniversary".

    It is important to mention that summed over the German and English editions (1st edition - 1985 and 1994, respectively), this is the 10th edition of this monumental book, distributed over 25 years all around the world. This last edition reviews, refines, and extends all previous editions of this book.

    With the ability, patience and talent of a Swiss jeweler, Professor Birolini has polished this book to perfection for over 25 years and in 10 successive editions, of which six in English.

    And the result - the sixth edition of the book Reliability Engineering: Theory And Practice, published in 2010, is a real jewel, with an infinite value for both theory and practice in the field of Reliability; a true Bible for this domain.

Professor Emeritus Alessandro BIROLINI - A Guru of European Reliability, in Proc. CCF2010, Sinaia (RO), 22-24 Sept. 2010

by
Professor Ioan C. BACIVAROV, PhD
Director of EUROQUALROM Laboratory
University "Politehnica" of Bucharest, Romania

During the six decades of relatively short history of reliability, a number of top professionals marked the evolution of this important interdisciplinary field.

Among the European specialists who brought remarkable contributions to the development of this domain, the name of Prof. Dr. Alessandro Birolini from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich is a prominent one.

Alessandro Birolini was born on the 13th September 1940 in Lugano, Switzerland and is presently Professor Emeritus of Reliability Engineering at ETH Zürich.

It is important to mention that the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich is itself a pole of excellence in science and technology and is ranked among the top universities in the world (being classified as the 3rd in Europe, after the universities of Cambridge and Oxford).

After his Dipl. Ing. HTL, Dipl. El.-Ing. ETH, Ph.D. (ETH), and 15 years of industrial experience (of which 4 years in charge of setting up the Swiss Test Laboratory for VLSI ICs in Neuchâtel), Dr. Alessandro Birolini  was from 1986 to 1998 Professor and head of the Reliability Laboratory at the ETH Zürich (Full Professor since 1992).

His research interests included fault tolerant systems with hardware and software, stochastic processes for reliability theory, test & screening strategies, and failure mechanisms.

Prof. Birolini has also been involved in an effective cooperation with 30 large and medium industries for over 10 years. He is author of more than 40 research & tutorial papers as well as of several monographs and books, among which the habilitation thesis On the Use of Stochastic Processes in Modeling Reliability Problems (Springer 1985) and the book Reliability Engineering: Theory and Practice (Springer, 6th Ed. 2010, 1st Ed. 1994, 1st German Ed. 1985, 4th German Ed. 1997).

Achievements include a new approach to compute the transition probabilities for Markov, semi-Markov & semi-regenerative processes and the development of approximate expressions for the reliability and availability of complex fault tolerant systems.

During more than three decades Alessandro Birolini brought an important contribution to the development of reliability, to its recognition as important domain of interest in the engineering and academic fields, not only in Switzerland but in the entire Europe. The international cooperation developed by Professor Birolini as Director of the Reliability Laboratory from ETH Zürich, the important number of international conferences and symposia in the field organized by Professor Birolini in his laboratory in Zürich (which became a veritable European pole of excellence in its field) entitle the opinion of several international experts in the field to consider Professor Birolini as a veritable Guru of European Reliability.

Engineer and philosopher (or “Ingenieur et penseur” - as he defined himself on the cover of his remarkable book Reliability Engineering: Theory and Practice), Professor Birolini brought an important contribution to the development of theory and practice of reliability, to its recognizing as an university domain of education and research.

I had the opportunity to work, for a short period in 1994 as an Invited Professor at the Reliability Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich, when I presented a short course on “Dependability of Complex Systems”. I had the extraordinary opportunity to work during this period with Sandro Birolini and I was impressed not only by his professional stature, but also by his human stature. Indeed, Professor Birolini is not only an excellent manager and specialist in Reliability field, but a man of an exceptional integrity, kindness and modesty.

Several honors gather to crown his exceptional career: Alessandro Birolini is a Life Member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy of Sciences, Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Recipient of the IEEE Third Millennium Medal. Professor Birolini was President of the Swiss Information Technology Society and Chairman of the IEEE Switzerland Section as well as Founder and Chairman of the IEEE Switzerland Reliability Chapter a.o.

The special session organized during the 12th International Conference on Quality and Dependability - CCF2010 in the honor of Professor Emeritus Alessandro Birolini represents the homage of the specialists in the field for a remarkable specialist and man.

The participants at CCF2010 will have the special opportunity to meet Professor Alessandro Birolini, who will present a conference concerning “Approximate Expressions for the Reliability and Availability  of Repairable Large Systems”, and will launch the 6th edition of his monumental book Reliability Engineering: Theory and Practice (published by Springer Verlag in September 2010).

At the anniversary of seven decades of his exceptional life and career, we wish Professor Birolini a long and fruitful life, with many achievements in the field to which he devoted himself: RELIABILITY.

Happy Anniversary, Sandro!

Lessons from a Life Dedicated to Reliability - An Interview, in Proc. CCF2010, Sinaia (RO), 22-24 Sept. 2010

by
Ioan C. BACIVAROV
Published in ASIGURAREA CALITÃTII – QUALITY ASSURANCE, Octombrie – Decembrie 2010 Anul XVI Numãrul 64

Approximate Expressions for the Reliability and Availability of Repairable Large Systems, in Proc. CCF2010, Sinaia (RO), 22-24 Sept. 2010

Invited paper to open the Session in Honor of Prof. Emeritus A. Birolini at his 70th Anniversary
12th Int. Conf. on Quality & Dependability, CCF 2010, Sinaia, Romania, 22-24 September 2010

Incredibly True about the "Active Property Right" - An Open Letter (in German)

As shown in the following open letter (report), not accepted for publication, the three sentences on the First Page of the book Reliability Engineering should also help to damp the galloping bureaucracy possible in a constitutional state as well (probably already present 3000 years ago, when looking at Psalm 58 in the Bible).

Darf der Besitzstand um jeden Preis aufrechterhalten / verteidigt werden?
Bericht / Bilanz über einen Scheidungsfall in der Schweiz, als Beispiel

Die Aufrechterhaltung des Besitzstandes hat in den letzten Jahren in unserem Lande unhaltbare Formen angenommen, nicht nur in Scheidungsfällen und unabhängig davon, ob das zu Lasten der Öffentlichkeit oder Privatpersonen geht. Es zeigt sich, dass auch Richter dieses Problem oft übersehen. Folgender Bericht über die persönlichen Erfahrungen des Verfassers soll als Case Study dieses Problem aufzeichnen.

Würde man glauben, dass in der Schweiz eine klare finanzielle und moralische Ausnützung unter dem Anschein der Legalität mittels groben Missdeutungen in gerichtlichen Akten jahrelang aufrecht erhalten werden kann? Nach 7 Jahren gerichtlicher Trennung mit Aufteilung der Einkünfte in monatlich netto rund Fr. 9'000.- für die Frau und Fr. 7'000.- für den Mann, wollte ein Scheidungsurteil, unter Berücksichtigung der veränderten finanziellen Lage des Mannes, die Aufteilung Fr. 9'000.- zu Fr. 5'000.- zementieren. Folgende Darlegungen stellen eine verdichtete Berichterstattung dar und stützen sich auf gerichtliche Akten. Die Beträge sind gerundet, die Hauptpersonen werden als Kläger und Beklagte bezeichnet.

Begonnen hat es im Jahre 1985, als infolge unvereinbarer Meinungsverschiedenheiten bezüglich Kindererziehung und Arbeitsbelastung des Klägers über eine Trennung/Scheidung, für den Zeitpunkt wenn beide Kinder volljährig sind, konkret diskutiert wurde. Damals hatte die Beklagte ihre Erwerbstätigkeit zu etwa 30% im Stundenlohn als Sekretärin wieder aufgenommen und der Kläger hatte sich für eine Professurstelle an der ETH nach über 10 Jahren Industrieerfahrung beworben (Wahl 1986). Die Kinder waren 16 und 14. Die Ehe wurde 1968 geschlossen, als beide Partner 28 waren. Auf der Basis des Budgets 1990 der Beklagten wurde im August 1990 eine Trennungskonvention besprochen und abgefasst. Unter Berücksichtigung der vom Kläger übernommenen finanziellen Belastungen blieben Fr. 5'500.- p.M. für die Sicherstellung des gleichen Lebensniveaus der Beklagten wie vor der Trennung. Der Kläger willigte aus freien Stücken der Abgabe von 40% seines Lohnes bis maximal monatlich Fr. 5'500.- ein (verstanden als Aufteilung 40/60% der festen Einkünfte beider Parteien), sowie der pauschalen Unterstützung einer eventuellen Weiterbildung der Kinder (je Fr. 50'000.-) und der definitiven Abtretung der Ferienwohnung in Pontresina mit Übernahme der noch offenen Hypothek zu Fr. 75'000.- mit Laufzeit bis 2005 (Fr. 115'000.- per 1978, als Altersvorsorge für die Beklagte verstanden). Nach der Zustimmung beider Parteien für die Herabsetzung der Unterhaltsbeiträge im Falle einer Veränderung der finanziellen Lage, wurde am Trennungsprozess (Uster, Dezember 1990) nur noch der Betrag von Fr. 5'500.- festgesetzt (der Lohn 1991 des Klägers erfüllte die Bedingung von 40%). Protokolliert ist die Absicht der Beklagten im Stundenlohn zu bleiben. Ebenfalls im guten Glauben stimmte der Kläger zu, dass die Teuerungszulagen bezahlt werden (verstanden als erhaltene Teuerungszulagen). Infolge fehlender Fachkenntnisse (kein Rechtsvertreter am Trennungsprozess) wurde nicht auf das einseitig begünstigende, sogar rechtlich falsche Trennungsurteil geachtet.

Eine zunehmende Erschöpfung des Klägers gab im Oktober 1994 den Anlass, die Beklagte über die mögliche (negative) Entwicklung der finanziellen Lage zu orientieren. Die Reaktion der Beklagten zog einen Briefwechsel mit dem Gegenanwalt nach sich und machte die Notwendigkeit für einen eigenen Anwalt klar. Nachdem 6 Monate lang keine weitere Reaktion der Gegenpartei erfolgte, wurde im Juli 1995 die Scheidungsklage an das Kantonsgericht Zug (Wohnort des Klägers bis März 1997) eingereicht. Nach einer Parteibefragung, einer Zeugenbefragung (beide Kinder auf Antrag der Beklagten) und der Hauptverhandlung im November 1997 fiel im September 1998 ein auffällig einseitig ausgelegtes Scheidungsurteil, das monatlich Fr. 5'500.- Unterhaltsbeiträge festsetzte, unabhängig vom festen Lohn der Beklagten von Fr. 3'500.- für eine 60%ige Stelle. Weil der Kläger auf den 1. Januar 1998 vom ETH-Rat aus medizinischen Gründen vorzeitig in den Ruhestand versetzt wurde (nach einer Übergangsphase von April bis Dezember 1997), hätte das Scheidungsurteil zu einer Verteilung der Einkünfte beider Parteien von Fr. 9'000.- für die Beklagte und Fr. 5 '000.- für den Kläger geführt. Hypothetische Nebeneinkünfte können dabei wenig helfen, was erstmals vom Obergericht des Kantons Zürich im September 1998 (im Rahmen des Prozesses zur Herabsetzung der Unterhaltsbeiträge) anerkannt wurde, indem es als vorsorgliche Massnahme die Unterhaltsbeiträge rückwirkend ab 1.1.98 neu auf monatlich Fr. 4'500.- festsetzte (das Bezirksgericht Uster hatte im März 1998 Fr. 6'500.- p.M. als richtig befunden). Die Begründung zum Scheidungsurteil verdreht die Sachlage an vielen Stellen (Berufung vom Oktober 1998), das Tonband zur Parteibefragung mit wichtigen Aussagen zum Beschäftigungsgrad der Beklagten wurde zerstört und die Kinderbefragung war unsubstantiell. Trotz des zugestandenen Rechts einer Berufung wurde das noch nicht in Kraft gewachsene Scheidungsurteil an Bürger- und Wohngemeinden der Parteien zwei Tage nach der Urteilsaussprache weiter gemeldet. Aus den zahlreichen, in den gerichtlichen Akten enthaltenen, groben Missdeutungen der Gegenpartei könnte die Folgende das obigen Verhalten erklären:

In den Plädoyernotizen vom 26.11.97 (Zug) wird behauptet, dass entgegen den Darlegungen des Klägers (Schreiben vom 28.12.95) die Beklagte schon seit 1985 eine Teilzeitstelle hatte, dass sie 30% bis Mai 1990 und 60% ab Juni 1990 arbeitete und, dass bei der Festsetzung der Unterhaltsbeiträge (Fr. 5'500.-) durch das Bezirksgericht Uster am Trennungsprozess (4.12.90) die Einkünfte aus der 60%igen Arbeitsstelle der Beklagten dem Gericht schon bekannt waren. Das soll aus einer fraglich formulierten Bestätigung vom 1.9.95 abgelesen werden, steht aber in klarem Widerspruch mit dem Nachtrag vom 5.6.91 zum Anstellungsvertrag der Beklagten vom 31.5.90 (60% ab 1.6.91), zum deklarierten Jahreseinkommen 1968-1997 der Beklagten und zu Ihren Aussagen im Trennungsprotokoll.

Um gegen die Verzögerungstaktik der Gegenpartei zu wirken und weil die Beklagte, entgegen der Abmachung am Trennungsprozess, ab Mitte 1991 eine feste Stelle zu 60% mit rund monatlich Fr. 3'500.- angenommen hatte und der Kläger von 1991 bis 1995 mit über Fr. 30'000.- direkter Bundessteuer für die ausbezahlten Unterhaltsbeiträge zusätzlich belastet wurde, meldete der Kläger (Schreiben vom 28.12.95) die Herabsetzung der Unterhaltsbeiträge ab Februar 1996 auf Fr. 1'200.-. Die Reaktion der Gegenpartei führte zu einer ersten Betreibung, welche auch die vollen Teuerungszulagen ab 1992 berücksichtigte. Der Kläger, der im Hinblick auf die Scheidung die Rückzahlung der noch hängigen Hypothek der Ferienwohnung der Beklagten in Pontresina getätigt hatte, musste einen Kredit aufnehmen. Eine zweite Betreibung folgte im Dezember 97 für die Monate April bis Dezember 1997 à Fr. 6'400.- p.M. In dieser Periode konnte der Kläger keine Unterhaltsbeiträge bezahlen, weil sein Lohn monatlich im Mittel Fr. 6'000.- war, netto Fr. 4'000.- nach Abzug der Berufsauslagen infolge Wohnort in Lugano seit April 1997. Sämtliche Nebeneinkünfte des Klägers sind lückenlos abgerechnet, von den Steuerbehörden abgenommen und der Gegenpartei vorgelegt worden. Sie betrugen im Mittel netto monatlich Fr. 300.- von 1990 bis  1996 und Fr. 100.- im Ja hre 1997 (Null 1998 und 1999). Zudem waren die ausbezahlten Unterhaltsbeiträge bis März 1997, gemittelt von Januar 1991 bis und mit Dezember 1997 Fr. 5'450.- p.M., d.h. bis Ende 1997 praktisch der in der Trennungskonvention vereinbarte maximale Betrag. Die Gegenpartei nützte dies mit folgender weiteren groben Missdeutung aus:

In den Plädoyernotizen vom 3.2.98 (Uster) wird unter dem Hinweis das sei sogar strafrechtlich relevant behauptet, der Kläger hätte ab April 1997 überhaupt keine Zahlung mehr gemacht, dies obwohl er als Einzelperson allein von der ETH Fr. 8'700.- p.M. hatte, was ein weiteres Mal das böswillige und mutwillige Verhalten des Klägers zeige. Die Gegenpartei hat dabei freilich den Lohn des Klägers über das ganze Jahr 1997 gemittelt, ohne die Monate Januar bis März, mit vollem Lohn und Unterhaltsbeiträgen von Fr. 6'400.- p.M., berücksichtigen zu wollen.

Eine Scheidungskonvention konnte im März 1999 zustande kommen als bekannt wurde, dass der Bund der Verteilung des freien Beitrages des Bundes beim Einkauf des Klägers in die PKB einwilligte und der Kläger die vom Gegenanwalt angedrohte Rechtsöffnung zur Betreibung vom Dezember 1997 bzw. Januar 1999, mit zwangsläufiger Ankündigung der Zahlungsunfähigkeit und Verpfändung des Ruhegehaltes bis zum Notbedarf, vermeiden wollte. Der Kläger willigte auf Unterhaltsbeiträge von monatlich Fr. 3'750.- als lebenslängliche Rente ab November 1998 (Mittelwert der geforderten Fr. 5'500.- und der seit anfangs 1998 ausgerichteten Fr. 2'000.-) und Fr. 25'000.- für ausstehende Unterhaltsbeiträge (Januar - Oktober 98 à je Fr. 2'500.-) ein. Nicht unbedeutend ist auch die Schlussrechnung von total über Fr. 60'000.- Anwaltskosten und Fr. 20'000.- Prozesskosten.

Als Ingenieur im speziellen ist es erstaunlich festzustellen, wie leere Aussagen Gehör finden und wie Formalismen und Vorurteile vorrangig zur Sachlage werden können. Dies trotz der Beweislast (die auffällig einseitig gefordert wurde), der klaren Verletzung von materiellem Recht, der Begünstigung der Beklagten am Trennungsprozess und der zeitlichen Limitierung für die Aussprache der Scheidung nach einer gerichtlichen Trennung. Erstaunlich ist auch, dass das am Trennungsprozess Besprochene und Protokollierte (z.B. die Herabsetzung der Unterhaltsbeiträge) später nicht beachtet wurde, dass der Präsident am Trennungsprozess zum Referent für den Prozess zur Herabsetzung der Unterhaltsbeiträge bestimmt wurde, dass das Scheidungsurteil vor Ablauf der Berufungsfrist weitergemeldet wurde und, dass auf Antrag der Beklagten das Splittingverfahren der AHV-Rente durchgeführt wurde, ungeachtet der gerichtlich genehmigten Unterhaltsbeiträge bzw. der lebenslänglichen Rente. Dieser Bericht soll dazu beitragen solche kafkaesken Situationen in Zukunft zu vermeiden. Ein angeborenes Interesse an Wissenschaft und Natur sowie echte Freunde helfen solche Erfahrungen zu überstehen.

Lugano, 31.12.1999
Prof. Dr. A. Birolini