Risk-informed decision-making in the presence of epistemic uncertainty

Didier Dubois, Dominique Guyonnet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


An important issue in risk analysis is the distinction between epistemic and aleatory uncertainties. In this paper, the use of distinct representation formats for aleatory and epistemic uncertainties is advocated, the latter being modelled by sets of possible values. Modern uncertainty theories based on convex sets of probabilities are known to be instrumental for hybrid representations where aleatory and epistemic components of uncertainty remain distinct. Simple uncertainty representation techniques based on fuzzy intervals and p-boxes are used in practice. This paper outlines a risk analysis methodology from elicitation of knowledge about parameters to decision. It proposes an elicitation methodology where the chosen representation format depends on the nature and the amount of available information. Uncertainty propagation methods then blend Monte Carlo simulation and interval analysis techniques. Nevertheless, results provided by these techniques, often in terms of probability intervals, may be too complex to interpret for a decision-maker and we, therefore, propose to compute a unique indicator of the likelihood of risk, called confidence index. It explicitly accounts for the decisionmaker’s attitude in the face of ambiguity. This step takes place at the end of the risk analysis process, when no further collection of evidence is possible that might reduce the ambiguity due to epistemic uncertainty. This last feature stands in contrast with the Bayesian methodology, where epistemic uncertainties on input parameters are modelled by single subjective probabilities at the beginning of the risk analysis process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-167
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of General Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Theoretical Computer Science


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