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Statistical models and probabilities - Essay Example

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Newer techniques of construction are being explored to achieve maximal quality with minimal expenses and time of construction. Statistical models and probabilities play an important role in this. Performance of companies on past…
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30 December Statistical Models and Probabilities in Civil Engineering IntroductionCivil engineering is an ever evolving field. Newer techniques of construction are being explored to achieve maximal quality with minimal expenses and time of construction. Statistical models and probabilities play an important role in this. Performance of companies on past projects and lessons learnt from the history provide guidelines for rational decision making in the future projects. Alternative decisions are assigned probabilities accordingly. This paper studies five applications of statistical models and/or probabilities in civil engineering.
1. Scheduling
Scheduling is one of the most important areas of civil engineering. For every project, a schedule is prepared prior to the commencement of the execution of the work. In order for the schedule to be rational, it is imperative that the time taken by similar activities in the past is reviewed. The activities are assigned durations based on that. However, owing to the emphasis on creativity and innovation in the present age, civil engineers are trying new ways and methods of executing the projects, so past record of duration of a certain activity may not always be there. PERT is a technique of assessing the duration of an activity that has never been executed in the past.
2. Research
Like all other areas, civil engineering has also evolved through research. The conventional techniques for the quantitative and/or qualitative analysis of the data make use of statistical models and probabilities. The data is checked for normality through the measures of kurtosis and skewness. If the data passes the normality test, then parametric tests are applied to evaluate the data further. If the data does not pass the normality test, then nonparametric tests are applied for the further evaluation of the data.
3. Risk Management
Risk management is a very important area of civil engineering. Civil engineers identify the risks at every stage of project starting from the project feasibility studies to the completion and handing over stage. Risk is any uncertain even that has a certain probability of occurrence and an impact. Assessment of risk at the right time not only allows the civil engineers to escape the threat posed by that risk, but also change that into an opportunity. Numerous techniques are employed for the risk assessment including the Monte Carlo simulation.
4. Safety Cushion
Height of a bridge in a certain area is selected on the basis of the maximum water level seen in the history of floods and precipitation in that area. Different levels of water are assigned different probabilities depending upon the frequency of their occurrence in the past to select the safety cushion for bridge construction.
5. Cost Estimation
Accurate cost estimation makes a project profitable. There is a very challenging aspect of cost estimation i.e. “to ask how reliably (described in terms of precision and accuracy) those costs have been estimated. If we agree that it is important to estimate costs, then it is clearly equally important to quantify the quality of those cost estimates” (Waterman et al. 4). Simulation modeling provides a mean to achieve that.
Conclusion
Statistical modeling and probability have a range of applications in civil engineering. They are used to make schedules, analyze data in the research, manage risks, selecting the factor of safety and estimating costs.
Works Cited:
Waterman, Richard; Rubin, Donald; Thomas, Neal; and Gelman, Andrew. “Simulation
modeling for cost estimation.” 9 June 1999. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. . Read More
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