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The reliability of a complex system was optimized by a new approach for implementing the sequential unconstrained minimization technique (SUMT) with the aid of Hooke and Jeeves pattern search and heuristic programming. Two optimization problems were considered. In the first, the system reliability was maximized subject to a nonlinear weight constraint. In the second, the weight of the system was minimized without violating the requirements of the minimal system reliability and the minimum reliability for each component. The sensitivities of the system reliability and that of the system weight to the reliability of each component were determined under optimal conditions.