Model uncertainty and the management of a system of infrastructure facilities

Kenneth D. Kuhn, Samer M. Madanat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The network-level infrastructure management problem involves selecting and scheduling maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation (MR&R) activities on networks of infrastructure facilities so as to maintain the level of service provided by the network in a cost-effective manner. This problem is frequently formulated as a Markov decision problem (MDP) solved via linear programming (LP). The conditions of facilities are represented by elements of discrete condition rating sets, and transition probabilities are employed to describe deterioration processes. Epistemic and parametric uncertainties not considered within the standard MDP/LP framework are associated with the transition probabilities used in infrastructure management optimization routines. This paper contrasts the expected costs incurred when model uncertainty is ignored with those incurred when this uncertainty is explicitly considered using robust optimization. A case study involving a network-level pavement management MDP/LP problem demonstrates how explicitly considering uncertainty may limit worst-case MR&R expenditures. The methods and results can also be used to identify the costs of uncertainty in transition probability matrices used in infrastructure management systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-404
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2005


  • Epistemic uncertainty
  • Infrastructure management
  • Robust optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Computer Science Applications


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