Abstract

In probabilistic seismic‐hazard analysis, epistemic uncertainties are commonly treated within a logic‐tree framework in which the branch weights express the degree of belief of an expert in a set of models. For the calculation of the distribution of hazard curves, these branch weights represent subjective probabilities. A major challenge for experts is to provide logically consistent weight estimates (in the sense of Kolmogorovs axioms), to be aware of the multitude of heuristics, and to minimize the biases which affect human judgment under uncertainty. We introduce a platform‐independent, interactive program enabling us to quantify, elicit, and transfer expert knowledge into a set of subjective probabilities by applying experimental design theory, following the approach of Curtis and Wood (2004). Instead of determining the set of probabilities for all models in a single step, the computer‐driven elicitation process is performed as a sequence of evaluations of relative weights for small subsets of models. From these, the probabilities for the whole model set are determined as a solution of an optimization problem. The result of this process is a set of logically consistent probabilities together with a measure of confidence determined from the amount of conflicting information which is provided by the expert during the relative weighting process. We experiment with different scenarios simulating likely expert behaviors in the context of knowledge elicitation and show the impact this has on the results. The overall aim is to provide a smart elicitation technique, and our findings serve as a guide for practical applications.

Online Material: Interactive software for the elicitation of expert knowledge.

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