Knowledge representation using non-parametric Bayesian networks for tunneling risk analysis

Fan Wang, Heng Li, Chao Dong, Lieyun Ding

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge capture and reuse are critical in the risk management of tunneling works. Bayesian networks (BNs) are promising for knowledge representation due to their ability to integrate domain knowledge, encode causal relationships, and update models when evidence is available. However, the model development based on classic BNs is challenging when expert opinions are solicited due to the discretization of variables and quantification of large conditional probability tables. This study applies non-parametric BNs, which only require the elicitation of the marginal distribution corresponding to each node and correlation coefficient associated with each edge, to develop a knowledge-based expert system for tunneling risk analysis. In particular, we propose to use the pair-wise Pearson's linear correlations to parameterize the model because the assessment is intuitive and experts in the engineering domain are more familiar and comfortable with this notion. However, when Spearman's rank correlation is given, the method can also be used by modification of the marginals. The method is illustrated with a tunnel case in the Wuhan metro project. The expert knowledge of risk assessment for common failures in shield tunneling is integrated and visualized. The developed model is validated by real documented accidents. Potential applications of the model are also explored, such as decision support for risk-based design.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106529
JournalReliability Engineering and System Safety
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Expert system
  • Non-parametric Bayesian networks
  • Risk analysis
  • Structured expert judgment
  • Tunneling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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