title: A (web browser-)window on the world of safety and reliability
keywords: fault trees, visualization, web interface
topics: Dependability, security and performance
committee: Stefano Schivo ,
Mariƫlle Stoelinga
type: TI Design Project


Models are marvellous: they help us guarantee that trains (mostly) arrive on time, that our protections against flooding won't fail and that dangerous materials (oil, rubbish, radioactive waste, ...) are kept safely separated from the environment. We love models.

Experts on all kinds of different fields possess the precious knowledge that gives the "spark of life" to many of our models. Thanks to these experts we can make our models realistic and get useful insights from them, making them an asset for decision making and risk assessment.Powerful modeling tools allow to build and analyze models in many different ways, efficiently producing useful results. Unfortunately, all this power comes at a cost: most modeling tools are not famous for their usability and user-friendliness. In an ideal world, an expert would have direct access to the modeling tool, and be able to make better models with little effort. This would make the most of the expert's contribution.

The powerful modeling tool DFTCalc can be used to evaluate the degree of safety and reliability of existing systems. Thanks to the implementation of advanced fault tree analysis, DFTCalc allows us to derive all kinds of useful information and successful strategies for the improvement of many real-world scenarios.Alas, the current implementation of DFTCalc has an interface that is based only on text, and uses a description of the fault tree formalism that can rapidly grow out of hand even with small-sized models. This means that actually useful models are extremely hard to build, both because of their unmanageable size and because field experts cannot directly build and improve these models.

Your task: make it possible for domain experts to access the powerful tools that now lie just outside their grasp. Channel the might of model checking through a user-friendly interface and let the experts do their work! The world will be forever grateful for such a noble enabling effort! In less epic words: the task for this project is the implementation of a web-based graphical user interface that enables field experts to access DFTCalc in a simple way. A graphical representation of fault trees together with the proper interface for their analysis will be published as a web page to enable a direct and more efficient access to the tool and the models that can be built with it.

What has to be delivered:

  • Investigation of the possibilities provided by some existing frameworks for web-based tree/network representation such as Cytoscape.js (see also the success story of webANIMO, applied to the biological field)
  • Analysis of the requirements, taking into account for example technical limitations/opportunities and usability issues
  • Design and implementation of a user-friendly web interface for DFTCalc, allowing it to immediately reach a much wider public

If successful, the outcome of the project will be a new way to access DFTCalc, making its use in the safety and reliability research a painless experience for any domain expert.