How complicated projects like building a skyscraper or a rocket or a bridge manage so many details?

It's a question I often wondered about as a child, as I marveled at NYC skyscrapers during my first visit there, or when I visited Cape Canaveral or the Golden Gate Bridge. I don't claim I will provide a full answer to this question in this short post. However, recently, I've been studying two types of tools that are very useful in handling the mindbogglingly numerous details of a complicated project. And I would like to tell you about those 2 tools here. So this is going to be a very limited answer to the question posed in the title, but still, I hope it will be an interesting answer.

The 2 tools I am referring to are:

  1. PERT diagrams.
    PERT diagrams are used for scheduling a project consisting of a series of interdependent activities and estimating how long it will take to finish the project. PERT diagrams were invented by the NAVY in 1958 to manage a submarine project. Nowadays they are taught in many business and management courses.
  2. Reliability Box Diagrams (and the closely related Fault Tree Diagrams)
    Complicated devices with a large number of components such as cars or airplanes or submarines or aircraft carriers or rockets can fail in many ways. If their performance depends on some components working in series and one of the components in the series fails, this may lead to catastrophic failure. To avert such disasters, engineers use equivalent components connected in parallel instead of in series, thus providing multiple backup systems. They analyze the device to find its weak points and add backup capabilities there. They also estimate the average time to failure for the device.

Standard presentations of these 2 tools do not use Bayesian Networks. In the last week, I added 2 new chapters to my book Bayesuvius, one chapter for each of the above 2 tools. What I did was to translate both of those tools into Bayesian Networks. So now you can do PERT analysis and Reliability/Failure Analysis without leaving your B net comfort zone, using only B Nets.

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Tags: dsc_analytics, dsc_logistics, dsc_tagged


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