Predicting system reliability is often a core task in systems design. System reliability depends on component reliability and dependence of components. Component reliability can be predicted with a physics-based approach if the associated physical models are available. If the models do not exist, component reliability may be estimated from data. When both types of components coexist, their dependence is often unknown, and the component states are therefore assumed independent by the traditional method, which can result in a large error. This work proposes a new system reliability method to recover the missing component dependence, thereby leading to a more accurate estimate of the joint probability density (PDF) of all the component states. The method works for series systems whose load is shared by its components that may fail due to excessive loading. For components without physical models available, the load data are recorded upon failure, and equivalent physical models are created; the model parameters are estimated by the proposed Bayesian approach. Then models of all component states become available, and the dependence of component states, as well as their joint PDF, can be estimated. Four examples are used to evaluate the proposed method, and the results indicate that the proposed method can produce more accurate predictions of system reliability than the traditional method that assumes independent component states.

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