Bridging the Gap: Selected Problems in Model Specification, Estimation, and Optimal Design from Reliability and Lifetime Data Analysis
King, Caleb B.
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Understanding the lifetime behavior of their products is crucial to the success of any company in the manufacturing and engineering industries. Statistical methods for lifetime data are a key component to achieving this level of understanding. Sometimes a statistical procedure must be updated to be adequate for modeling specific data as is discussed in Chapter 2. However, there are cases in which the methods used in industrial standards are themselves inadequate. This is distressing as more appropriate statistical methods are available but remain unused. The research in Chapter 4 deals with such a situation. The research in Chapter 3 serves as a combination of both scenarios and represents how both statisticians and engineers from the industry can join together to yield beautiful results. After introducing basic concepts and notation in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 focuses on lifetime prediction for a product consisting of multiple components. During the production period, some components may be upgraded or replaced, resulting in a new ``generation" of component. Incorporating this information into a competing risks model can greatly improve the accuracy of lifetime prediction. A generalized competing risks model is proposed and simulation is used to assess its performance. In Chapter 3, optimal and compromise test plans are proposed for constant amplitude fatigue testing. These test plans are based on a nonlinear physical model from the fatigue literature that is able to better capture the nonlinear behavior of fatigue life and account for effects from the testing environment. Sensitivity to the design parameters and modeling assumptions are investigated and suggestions for planning strategies are proposed. Chapter 4 considers the analysis of ADDT data for the purposes of estimating a thermal index. The current industry standards use a two-step procedure involving least squares regression in each step. The methodology preferred in the statistical literature is the maximum likelihood procedure. A comparison of the procedures is performed and two published datasets are used as motivating examples. The maximum likelihood procedure is presented as a more viable alternative to the two-step procedure due to its ability to quantify uncertainty in data inference and modeling flexibility.
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