Soft computing approaches to uncertainty propagation in environmental risk mangement
Real-world problems, especially those that involve natural systems, are complex and composed of many nondeterministic components having non-linear coupling. It turns out that in dealing with such systems, one has to face a high degree of uncertainty and tolerate imprecision. Classical system models based on numerical analysis, crisp logic or binary logic have characteristics of precision and categoricity and classified as hard computing approach. In contrast soft computing approaches like probabilistic reasoning, fuzzy logic, artificial neural nets etc have characteristics of approximation and dispositionality. Although in hard computing, imprecision and uncertainty are undesirable properties, in soft computing the tolerance for imprecision and uncertainty is exploited to achieve tractability, lower cost of computation, effective communication and high Machine Intelligence Quotient (MIQ). Proposed thesis has tried to explore use of different soft computing approaches to handle uncertainty in environmental risk management. The work has been divided into three parts consisting five papers.
In the first part of this thesis different uncertainty propagation methods have been investigated. The first methodology is generalized fuzzy ?-cut based on the concept of transformation method. A case study of uncertainty analysis of pollutant transport in the subsurface has been used to show the utility of this approach. This approach shows superiority over conventional methods of uncertainty modelling. A Second method is proposed to manage uncertainty and variability together in risk models. The new hybrid approach combining probabilistic and fuzzy set theory is called Fuzzy Latin Hypercube Sampling (FLHS). An important property of this method is its ability to separate randomness and imprecision to increase the quality of information. A fuzzified statistical summary of the model results gives indices of sensitivity and uncertainty that relate the effects of variability and uncertainty of input variables to model predictions. The feasibility of the method is validated to analyze total variance in the calculation of incremental lifetime risks due to polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/F) for the residents living in the surroundings of a municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) in Basque Country, Spain.
The second part of this thesis deals with the use of artificial intelligence technique for generating environmental indices. The first paper focused on the development of a Hazzard Index (HI) using persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity properties of a large number of organic and inorganic pollutants. For deriving this index, Self-Organizing Maps (SOM) has been used which provided a hazard ranking for each compound. Subsequently, an Integral Risk Index was developed taking into account the HI and the concentrations of all pollutants in soil samples collected in the target area. Finally, a risk map was elaborated by representing the spatial distribution of the Integral Risk Index with a Geographic Information System (GIS). The second paper is an improvement of the first work. New approach called Neuro-Probabilistic HI was developed by combining SOM and Monte-Carlo analysis. It considers uncertainty associated with contaminants characteristic values. This new index seems to be an adequate tool to be taken into account in risk assessment processes. In both study, the methods have been validated through its implementation in the industrial chemical / petrochemical area of Tarragona.
The third part of this thesis deals with decision-making framework for environmental risk management. In this study, an integrated fuzzy relation analysis (IFRA) model is proposed for risk assessment involving multiple criteria. The fuzzy risk-analysis model is proposed to comprehensively evaluate all risks associated with contaminated systems resulting from more than one toxic chemical. The model is an integrated view on uncertainty techniques based on multi-valued mappings, fuzzy relations and fuzzy analytical hierarchical process. Integration of system simulation and risk analysis using fuzzy approach allowed to incorporate system modelling uncertainty and subjective risk criteria. In this study, it has been shown that a broad integration of fuzzy system simulation and fuzzy risk analysis is possible.
In conclusion, this study has broadly demonstrated the usefulness of soft computing approaches in environmental risk analysis. The proposed methods could significantly advance practice of risk analysis by effectively addressing critical issues of uncertainty propagation problem.
Advisor: Schuhmacher, Marta
School:Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:departament d enginyeria química
Date of Publication:06/19/2008