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A Systems Approach to Electronic Reliability

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1 Author(s)
Luebbert, W.F. ; United States Signal Corps., on duty at Electronics Research Lab., Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif.

Certain broad general principles of electronic reliability become obvious when reliability is viewed as one of a number of important aspects of the broad general problem of achieving most efficient and effective performance of some desired task using electronic equipment. 1) The reliability of an electronic device or system depends not only upon the intrinsic properties of the device, but also on the tasks it is required to perform, the characteristics of the demand for performance, and the conditions under which successful performance of the tasks is demanded. 2) The over-all reliability objective is not merely the prevention of failures; instead it is the achievement of successful system performance. 3) Failure is important only because of its effect on the external situation, and it is not important in itself. These principles are perhaps so self-evident as to sound like platitudes, yet their implications are seldom fully recognized. Accepting them as valid leads to the conclusion that to attempt to insure success merely by improving the failure characteristics of individual parts of an equipment or system is to neglect many fascinating and attractive approaches to reliability improvement. The achievement of successful, failure-resistant systems is the type of problem suitable for attack by the classic scientific method and by specific techniques used in operations research. A rationale for the development of reliable systems is developed from such a viewpoint and presented in the form of a system development check-list.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IRE  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 4 )