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NASA Taxonomies for Searching Problem Reports and FMEAsMany types of hazard and risk analyses are used during the life cycle of complex systems, including Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Hazard Analysis, Fault Tree and Event Tree Analysis, Probabilistic Risk Assessment, Reliability Analysis and analysis of Problem Reporting and Corrective Action (PRACA) databases. The success of these methods depends on the availability of input data and the analysts knowledge. Standard nomenclature can increase the reusability of hazard, risk and problem data. When nomenclature in the source texts is not standard, taxonomies with mapping words (sets of rough synonyms) can be combined with semantic search to identify items and tag them with metadata based on a rich standard nomenclature. Semantic search uses word meanings in the context of parsed phrases to find matches. The NASA taxonomies provide the word meanings. Spacecraft taxonomies and ontologies (generalization hierarchies with attributes and relationships, based on terms meanings) are being developed for types of subsystems, functions, entities, hazards and failures. The ontologies are broad and general, covering hardware, software and human systems. Semantic search of Space Station texts was used to validate and extend the taxonomies. The taxonomies have also been used to extract system connectivity (interaction) models and functions from requirements text. Now the Reconciler semantic search tool and the taxonomies are being applied to improve search in the Space Shuttle PRACA database, to discover recurring patterns of failure. Usual methods of string search and keyword search fall short because the entries are terse and have numerous shortcuts (irregular abbreviations, nonstandard acronyms, cryptic codes) and modifier words cannot be used in sentence context to refine the search. The limited and fixed FMEA categories associated with the entries do not make the fine distinctions needed in the search. The approach assigns PRACA report titles to problem classes in the taxonomy. Each ontology class includes mapping words - near-synonyms naming different manifestations of that problem class. The mapping words for Problems, Entities and Functions are converted to a canonical form plus any of a small set of modifier words (e.g. non-uniformity NOT + UNIFORM.) The report titles are parsed as sentences if possible, or treated as a flat sequence of word tokens if parsing fails. When canonical forms in the title match mapping words, the PRACA entry is associated with the corresponding Problem, Entity or Function in the ontology. The user can search for types of failures associated with types of equipment, clustering by type of problem (e.g., all bearings found with problems of being uneven: rough, irregular, gritty ). The results could also be used for tagging PRACA report entries with rich metadata. This approach could also be applied to searching and tagging failure modes, failure effects and mitigations in FMEAs. In the pilot work, parsing 52K+ truncated titles (the test cases that were available), has resulted in identification of both a type of equipment and type of problem in about 75% of the cases. The results are displayed in a manner analogous to Google search results. The effort has also led to the enrichment of the taxonomy, adding some new categories and many new mapping words. Further work would make enhancements that have been identified for improving the clustering and further reducing the false alarm rate. (In searching for recurring problems, good clustering is more important than reducing false alarms). Searching complete PRACA reports should lead to immediate improvement.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Malin, Jane T. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Throop, David R. (Boeing Co. United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
Subject Category
Quality Assurance and Reliability
Meeting Information
Ultra Reliability 2006 Workshop(Huntsville, AL)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.