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## RELIABILITY MODEL FOR PAVEMENT PERFORMANCE

By A. Alsherri1 and K. P. George,2 Member, ASCE
(Reviewed by the Highway Division)

## ABSTRACT: A simulation model to calculate the reliability/performance

of pavements is developed. The computer program, Reliability Analysis
and Performance of Pavements (RAPP-I), employs Monte Carlo simula-
tion techniques to solve the design equations (e.g., AASHTO, Premium)
in which all of the design variables are assumed to be probabilistic and
normally distributed. RAPP-I, in conjunction with the respective design
model, calculates the present serviceability index (PSI) of pavements in
one-year increments. In addition to uncertainties attributable to the
design factors, errors due to idealization of the model are included in the
PSI calculation. By comparing the computed PSI with the terminal PSI,
assuming that both are normally distributed, standard probabilistic
techniques are employed for calculating pavement reliability. An ex-
pression for calculating the "expected" life of pavements, employing
the reliabilities at various ages, is proposed. The expected life is found
to be a convenient measure for comparing the performance of various
pavement design features.

INTRODUCTION
Development of highway pavements that require minimum maintenance
during the in-service life is the primary goal of recent highway studies.
Estimation of pavement performance within acceptable levels is necessary
in selecting the best design for a given project.
Most design factors that affect pavement performance have some degree
of variation, which may come from dispersion of their values and/or errors
associated with estimating these factors. The uncertainty also arises from
the design models themselves. There are two sources of model error. First,
the number of basic physical variables has been limited to a finite number
in leaving out a possibly infinite set of parameters that in the model
idealization process have been judged to be of secondary or negligible
importance for the problem at hand. Second, model uncertainty is due to
the idealization of operational mathematical expressions. Besides this
cause of pragmatic simplification, uncertainty may be due to lack of
knowledge about the detailed interplay between the considered variables.
Historically, variation or uncertainty (in design) has been accounted for
by the use of safety factors or arbitrary decisions based on experience.
However, the use of safety factors, such as confidence levels in the design
of pavements with little consideration given to uncertainty of design
factors, has resulted in few failures (Hudson 1975).
In order to assess comprehensively the effects of uncertainty, probabi-
listic concepts need to be applied in an explicit, nonarbitrary way.
'Res. Asst., The Univ. of Mississippi, University, MS 38677.
2
Prof. of Civ. Engrg., The Univ. of Mississippi, University, MS 38677.
Note. Discussion open until October 1, 1988. To extend the closing date one
month, a written request must be filed with the ASCE Manager of Journals. The
manuscript for this paper was submitted for review and possible publication on July
17, 1986. This paper is part of the Journal of Transportation Engineering, Vol. 114,
No. 2, May, 1988. ©ASCE, ISSN 0733-947X/88/0002-0294/S1.00 + \$.15 per page.
Paper No. 22448.

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## Unfortunately, very few attempts have been made to apply probabilistic

formulations to pavements.
The concept of reliability could be used to quantify the uncertainty
associated with design predictions. One general definition of reliability is
the probability of success that the pavement will have in fulfilling its
intended function. One such function is to provide a certain serviceability
(i.e., performance) over the design period.
Lemer and Moavenzadeh (1971) developed one of the first models
dealing with reliability of pavements. They pointed out that the factors
affecting the degree of variation in pavement system parameters have a
significant effect on system reliability. Lemer attempted to apply the
Monte Carlo simulation method to a complex pavement design method for
the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The computer time associ-
ated with the Monte Carlo simulation proved to be excessive and imprac-
tical for practical applications.
Another model has been developed to apply the concepts of reliability to
the systems analysis of rigid pavements for the Texas Highway Depart-
ment (Kher et al. 1970). Three probabilistic variables have been considered
to compute a series of nearly optimal pavement designs at certain
confidence levels. These variables are (1) Flexural strength of concrete; (2)
modulus of subgrade reaction; and (3) Texas triaxial class of the subgrade.
Kher et al. (1970), however, employed a modified procedure that they
developed for simplicity. In any event, the computer searches out the
necessary design probabilities for established confidence levels. Assume,
for example, that a design confidence level of 95% is selected. Then the
outputs will be a series of nearby optimal pavement designs, all of which
can be expected to perform at the 95% reliability level with respect to
flexural strength of concrete and modulus of subgrade reaction. Another
way of saying this is that a 95% probability exists that premature failure
will not occur because of unexpectedly low strength in the slab or subgrade
(Hudson 1975).
Despite the importance of this work, the basic approach in predicting
reliability level according to the design parameter confidence levels raises
some questions. For example, if a 95% confidence level is selected for
flexural strength of concrete and modulus of subgrade reaction, the
expected performance may not be 95%. The reason is that the variation in
the pavement performance is dependent on such factors as (1) The
variation behavior of each design parameter; (2) the number of probabilis-
tic design parameters; and (3) the mathematical form of the design
equation.
The reliability model developed by Darter and Hudson (1973) considers
two major factors associated with the loss of serviceability or "failure of a
pavement": traffic effects and environmental effects. Darter pointed out
that two basic parameters associated with predicting the life of a pavement
section are the number of 18-kip equivalent single-axle load applications
(ESAL) withstood by the section before serviceability reaches (terminal),
Nt, and the number of 18-kip ESAL loadings applied to the pavement, NT.
Darter defined reliability, R, mathematically as follows:
R = P[N,^NT] , (1)
where P[ ] = probability that the event in the brackets will occur.
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## Reliability may now be evaluated considering log TV, and log NT to be

normally distributed:
R = P[D^0] ' (2)
where D = log N, - log NT.
VESYS model (Kenis 1977) uses a procedure similar to that developed
by Darter, in that reliability is calculated in terms of the present service-
ability index as follows:
R=P\pf^Pt] (3)
where pf = present serviceability index at time t; and p, = limiting
(terminal) serviceability index, generally set at 2.5 for AASHTO design
The reliability concept was formally introduced in the AASHTO Guide
for Design of Pavement Structures (1985). Reliability, R, in this context
corresponds to the probability that a pavement section will survive the
design period traffic with p a pt, where p and p, refer to the serviceability
levels at the end of design period and terminal serviceability level,
respectively. The formal definition of reliability is again according to Eq. 2.
N, and NT cannot be determined precisely; in this spirit, the AASHTO
Guide defines W, and wT as estimators of N, and NT. Reliability design
factor (log FR) is defined as follows:
log W, - log wT = log FR (4)
With this basic premise, a design equation (Eq. 5) was derived in the
AASHTO Guide.
log W, = -ZR *S0 + \ogwT (5)
where ZR = standard deviate corresponding to reliability level R; S0 =
overall standard deviation. The formulation in Eq. 5 has made it possible
to design pavements with a given reliability R, and nomographs for design
can be seen in the AASHTO Guide (1985).
One drawback of this model is that the design equation considers the
total variance (attributable to all design parameters) in the form of a
correction factor, S0 . To what extent a single feature variation affects the
reliability/performance of pavement cannot, therefore, be investigated
using the AASHTO model.
TABLE 1. Design Models for Various Pavement Types
Pavement Type Design Model Used
0) (2)
FLEX AASHTO Interim Guide (1972)
1985 Guide
JPC AASHTO Interim Guide (1972)
1985 Guide
CRC ARBP (Design 1981)
COMP AASHTO Interim Guide (1972)

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( START j

## Read All the Design Parameters, in Probabilistic Format — H(ji,0-J—for

Input: Number of Load Repetitions Input: Initial and Teminal input: Materials and
(18-kip ESAL Applications) Serviceability ind- Environmental
Each Year ices/Design Life Design Param-
eters

## Calculate the Mean and Standard

Deviation of pf(l)'s( p _ and
qij , Respectively} PE

Hi f °EXP(-Z2/2)dz

( END J

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Objectives
This study develops a simulation model for evaluating the reliability/
performance of pavements. The analysis relies on analytical formulation
relating performance and the basic design parameters. The model is
versatile in that it not only calculates the reliability of the pavement with
age, but also the expected or average life.

RELIABILITY/PERFORMANCE MODEL

## Reliability is the probability of success that the pavement will have in

fulfilling its intended function. One such function is to provide a certain
serviceability (i.e., performance) over the design period. Reliability of
various pavement types—flexible (FLEX), composite (COMP), jointed
plain concrete (JPC), and continuously reinforced concrete (CRC)—will be
formulated in accordance with Eq. 3, which is written in terms of present
serviceability index. In order to calculate the PSI as a function of time one
has to rely on design models (analytical relations between PSI and basic
design parameters). A list of those models for various pavement types is
included in Table 1. Both the AASHTO Interim Guide and the AASHTO
Guide models are readily available in the literature; therefore, they are not
included here. The ARBP model for CRC (Design of Continuously
Reinforced Concrete Highways 1981), is, for all practical purposes,
identical to that of the AASHTO Interim Guide model. The premium model
for JPC is somewhat different from the AASHTO models; for ready
reference, it is included in Appendix I.
The scheme of computing the reliability involves calculating the present
serviceability index, pf, at a specified time and comparing that with the
terminal serviceability index, p, (see Eq. 3). The computer model, desig-
nated Reliability Analysis and Performance of Pavement-I (RAPP-I),
performs this task making use of the Monte Carlo simulation method. As
can be verified in the flow chart of RAPP-I (see Fig. 1), the program
calculates pavement reliability as well as expected life, the latter based on
reliability. The following sections briefly describe the various submodels
that constitute the RAPP-I program.

## SOLVING MODEL EQUATION BY MONTE CARLO TECHNIQUE

The algorithm for calculating PSI values, pf, based on a set of input
design factors (independent variables) constitutes the first submodel.
When the dependent variable pf is a nonlinear function of independent
variables (concrete properties, soil strength, climatic factors, initial ser-
viceability index, as in JPC and CRC models) the mean and variance of pf
are more difficult to calculate, often done by numerical integration. The
point estimate method was employed first to perform the calculations. The
mathematical procedure, however, is very complicated because the design
equation is nonlinear and the application of two-point estimate may not be
accurate. The Monte Carlo simulation method, however, turned out to be
more practical and straightforward to use than the point estimate method.
The design equation model or the mathematical formulation embedded in
the design model is solved by the simulation technique in conjunction with
the assumed probabilistic formulations for all the input design factors.
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In the model, all the design parameters including initial and terminal
serviceability indices are assumed probabilistic quantities (see Appendix
II). Relying on the results of previous studies (Hudson 1975), and for the
sake of simplicity, the writers assume that the input design factors are
normally distributed. The values of design factors are generated indepen-
dently by using a subroutine based on the central limit theorem. The
following algorithm has been developed for this purpose:

## 1. Generate 12 uniformly distributed random numbers ii\ , u2 , . . . , u12

from u (0,1).
2. Z = S ? i , Ui — 6 where z = the standard deviate of a random variable.
3. x = Z a + (x where |x, cr = mean, standard deviation of a given input
variable.

Making use of one set of selected input design factors (a single value
randomly selected for each factor) apy-value is computed using the design
model. The calculations are repeated 500 times, resulting in an equal
number of pj-values; each value results from a unique set of input design
factors. The mean and standard deviation of the 500 /^-values are now
calculated as a part of the submodel.
In order to verify the normal distribution assumption, the /^values,
computed by RAPP-I for a JPC pavement at an age of 10 years (design life
of 20 years) are plotted in a histogram in Fig. 2. Typical input data (the
mean value and coefficient of variation) for the RAPP-I model with
premium as well as AASHTO Guide equations are included in Appendix II,
Table 3. Note that the data fall under four general categories: traffic,
material properties, environment, and limiting criteria for serviceability.
The probability distributions of pyfor both premium and AASHTO Interim
Guide models are included in the figure. For all practical purposes, the two
histograms resemble normal probability functions—the histogram of the
premium model more so than that of the AASHTO model.

Model Uncertainty
The (uncertainty) analysis described in the preceding section ignores
model uncertainty or error due to imperfect formulation of the design
model. To estimate the model uncertainty one must in principle be able to
observe many differences between (or ratios of) observed and predicted
outputs. The observed values can be compared with model predicted
values to yield data from which estimates of standard deviation of model
prediction <sME, can be made. The aggregate standard deviation (error) of
the model, apf, must now be computed by combining, in accordance with
Eq. 6, <rME, and the error due to uncertainty in the design factors, vpd.
orp/=(a^ + a^)1/2 (6)
The model error of FLEX and JPC models (AASHTO Interim Guide
1972) are determined to be normally distributed with a standard deviation
of 0.24 and 0.46, respectively (Shah et al. 1985). The error associated with
the premium model for design of JPC pavements is also normally distrib-
uted with a standard deviation of approximately 0.15 (George et al. 1988).
The standard deviation, upf, with age as well as with serviceability level
299

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40
(a)

20'

_, I iliMJ U""H •
0.0
—f—
2.0 3.0 4,0
—,
1.0
Serviceability Index 5.0

40.

(b)

20

0
0.0
• >lmM| Ull II lillnll
1.0 2.0 3.0
ill 4.0
llll'J '•
-I
5.0
Serviceability Index

## FIG. 2. Frequency of Observations Predicted by Premium and AASHTO Design

Models for JPC Pavements at Age = 10 years (500 Observations): (a) Premium
Model; (b) AASHTO Interim Guide Model

## of the pavement is depicted in Fig. 3. As expected, upf increases with age

and decreases with increasing level of serviceability. The above result
simply confirms an intuitive conclusion that the reliability of the pavement
system decreases with age as well as with decreasing level of serviceability
index. That the RAPP-I program correctly depicts the variances can be
offered as an empirical proof of the model.
Reliability
When both pf (mean and standard deviation) and p, (mean and standard
deviation) are known, with the assumption that they are both normally
distributed, reliability, R, may be estimated using the following ex-
pression:

IV ~ IV
R = <\$> = 4>Uo) (7)
(o- Pf +
°pt>

where § = standard normal distribution; upf, upt = mean values of pf, p,;
apf, dpt = standard deviations of pf, p,; and z0 = standard normal deviate.
Reliability defined in Eq. 7 can be calculated using the following formu-
lation:
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## FIG. 3. Uncertainty in Serviceability Index Prediction Increases with Age and

Decreases with Increasing Serviceability Level

1 p dz
exp (8)

Performance/Expected Life
Whereas the reliability of a pavement (toward the end of its design life)
is a basic measure of performance, the expected life (average life through-
out which the serviceability does not fall below a minimum level) turns out
to be a better parameter indicating performance. The term expected is to
be understood as in the theory of probability and has the meaning of
"average in a large population" with all relevant circumstances un-
changed. Performance is a measure of the accumulated service provided
by the pavement. In probabilistic terms, it may be interpreted as the
expected life of acceptable service. The minimum level of acceptability
may be defined by the designer; the AASHTO Interim Guide design has
adopted a minimum serviceability index of 2.5, for example. By the
definition of Eq. 3, reliability less than one, say R, means that 1 — R
fraction of the sections has fallen short of providing acceptable minimum
service. Another interpretation of reliability, employing the concepts of

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## TABLE 2. Correspondence Between Reliability According to AASHTO Design and

Life Expectancy According to RAPP-I (Design Life 15 years and 20 years for FLEX
and J PC, Respectively)

## AASHTO Guide (1985) Expected Life

AASHTO Guide (1985) Structural Sections for (According to RAPP-I)
Design Parameters Specific Reliability (years)
Overall Flexible
Standard Structural Rigid Slab
Reliability Deviation Number (in.) Flexible Rigid
(D (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
50 0.4 4.7 10.0
50 0.3 8.4 14.4
85 0.4 5.4 13.1
85 0.3 9.5 18.5
90 0.4 5.6 13.5
90 0.3 9.8 19.1
95 0.4 5.8 14.0
95 0.3 10.2 19.6
99 0.4 6.2 14.5
99 0.3 11.0 20.0

Eq. 1, may be offered here. Reliability i?, in the z'fh year signifies that the
life expectancy during that same one year period is Rf (note i?, S 1).
Adopting this point of view and considering the reliability of pavement in
one year increments, expected service life or performance of pavement,
designed for / years, is

E(L) = 2 R, (9)
/=i

## Verification of RAPP-I Model

How well the model can predict reliability and especially expected life of
pavements is studied by comparing the RAPP-I results with those of the
1985 AASHTO model. First, the structural sections required to satisfy the
reliability requirements (column 1 of Table 2) are derived for both FLEX
and JPC pavements, as listed in columns 3 and 4, respectively. The design
lives of the two types of pavements are different: 15 years for FLEX and
20 years for JPC pavements. Employing those structural sections and
relevant input data, the RAPP-I model is now used to calculate the
expected life of both FLEX and JPC pavements. Typical input data for
JPC and FLEX are included in Appendix II, Tables 3 and 4, respectively.
The life expectancy of each sample pavement, as determined by RAPP-I,
is tabulated in columns 5 and 6 for FLEX and JPC pavements. As
expected, pavements designed with higher reliability have provided su-
perior performance. The correspondence between the design reliability of
the revised AASHTO model and the life expectancy predicted by RAPP-I
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## (columns 1 and 5 or 6, Table 2) is extremely satisfactory, indirectly

verifying the validity of the latter model.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

## The model designated Reliability Analysis and Performance of Pave-

ment (RAPP-I), using probabilistic input variables, can compute the
reliability of a pavement with age and also its expected life. A few results
presented in this paper attest to the validity of the model. RAPP-I has been
employed to investigate the significance of the important design features of
ments. The effectiveness of each feature is evaluated by comparing the
performance/expected life and reliability of typical pavement sections with
and without premium features. The salient results of this study can be seen
in a companion paper in this journal (George et al. 1988); for the results in
toto, the reader may consult Shah et al. 1985.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

## This research was a part of the study titled "Evaluation of Alternatives

to Improve Pavement Design," conducted by Globetrotters Engineering
Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, and sponsored by the Federal Highway
Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding for this
study was provided by the Federal Highway Administration and the
University of Mississippi.
The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this report are those
of the writers and not necessarily those of the Federal Highway Adminis-
tration and the University of Mississippi. This report does not constitute a
standard, specification, or regulation.

## APPENDIX I. PREMIUM MODEL FOR JPC

The rigid pavement (JPC) model (Eq. 10) was derived from 76 pavement
sections located in 11 states (George et al. 1988). Mechanistic variables
were introduced by using Westergaard's edge stress model directly in the
regression analysis. Climatic variables were included by using them
directly in the regression analysis.

Mp
Pt = Pi ~ 3 exp - 1^1 (10)
where p,, /?,• = terminal, initial serviceability index; p = 19.7 F + 9.4 Dow
- 48.9; N = ESASL + 0.00256 Age * FI; and (J = 1/(2.42 Fm - 0.004 FI
- 0.009 AP) in which Dow = 1 (dowel used), 0 (no dowel); ESAL = 18-kip
equivalent single axle load; FI = freezing index, degree days; F = stress
ratio, fthe; with/, = modulus of rupture of concrete; and ae = Wester-
gaard's edge stress.
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PAVEMENTS

## TABLE 3. Typical Input Data for JPC/CRC Pavement

Coefficient of
Material Characteristic/Attribute Mean Value Variation (%)
(1) (2) (3)
Annual traffic, 18-kip ESAL applications (Wls) 0.60 x 10" 30.0
Design life (Age) 20 years NA
Modulus of rupture 4.5 MPa (650 psi) 10.0
Modulus of elasticity (E) 34,500 MPa (5 x 106 psi) 3.8
Dowels, dow (premium model only) 1.0 NA
Load transfer coefficient, (J) 3.2 (JPC) 0.32
(AASHTO, model only) 2.56 (CRC)
Modulus of subgrade reaction (k) 0.095 Mmm3 (350 pci) 35.0
Drainage coefficient, (CJ 1.0 10.0
(AASHTO model only) (Oxford, Mississippi)
Annual precipitation, (AP) 130 cm (51 in.) 15.0
Freezing index, (FI) 0.0
(Premium model only) (Oxford, Mississippi) 20.0
Initial serviceability index 4.5 6.7
Terminal serviceability index
AASHTO 2.5 16.0
Overall standard deviations (5„) 0.3 NA
Model error of the AASHTO and premium
models (<rME),
AASHTO 0.24 NA

## TABLE 4. Typical Input Data for Flexible Pavement

Coefficient of
Variations,
Material Characteristric/Attribute Mean Value percent
Annual traffic, 18-kip ESAL applications 0.60 x 106 30.0
(W18)
Design life (age) 15 years NA
Subgrade resilient modulus (Mr) 34.4 MPa (5,000 psi) 20.0
Structural numbers,
'a, (AC) 0.44 5.0
a2 (granular base) 0.14 8.0
a3 (granular subbase) 0.12 8.0
Drainage coefficients
m2 (base) 1.0 10.0
m3 (subbase) 1.0 10.0
Number of layers excluding the subgrade 3 NA
Regional number (R) 2.0 20.0
(Oxford, Mississippi)
Initial serviceability index (p,) 4.5 6.7
Terminal serviceability index (p,) 2.5 16.0
Overall standard deviation (5„) 0.4 NA
Model error (crM£) 0.46 NA

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## AASHTO guide for design of pavement structures. (1985). American Association of

State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C.
AASHTO interim guide for design of pavement structure. (1972). American
Association for State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C.
Benjamin, J. R., and Cornell, C. A. (1970). Probability statistics and decision for
civil engineers. McGraw-Hill, New York, N.Y.
Darter, M. L, and Hudson, W. R. (1973). "Probabilistic design concepts applied to
flexible pavement system design." Report No. 123-18, Center for Highway
Research, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Tex.
Design of continuously reinforced concrete highways. (1981). CRC Manual, As-
sociated Reinforcing Bar Producers—CRSI, Chicago, 111.
George, K. P., Alsherri, A., and Shah, N. S. (1988). "Reliability analysis of
premium pavement design features." J. Transp. Engrg., ASCE, 114(5),
George, K. P., et al. (1982). "Iterim guide for design of premium pavements." Final
Report to FHWA, Washington, D.C.
Hudson, W. R. (1975). "State-of-the-art in predicting pavement reliability from
input variability." Report No. FAA-RD-75-207, U.S. Army Waterways Experi-
ment Station, Vicksburg, Miss.
Kenis, W. J. (1977). "Predicted design procedure for flexible pavement using the
VESYS structural subsystem." Proc. Fourth Int. Conf. on Struct. Design of
Asphalt Pavements, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., 101-130.
Kher, K. K., Hudson, W. R., and McCullough, B. F. (1970). "A System Analysis
of Rigid Pavement Design." Report No. 123-5, The University of Texas at
Austin, Austin, Tex.
Lemer, A. C , and Moavenzaydeh, F. (1971). "Reliability of highway pavements."
Highway Research Board, Record No. 362, Washington, D.C.
Shah, N. S., et al. (1985). "Evaluation of alternatives to improve pavement
design." Report FHWA-TS-85-230, FHWA, Washington, D.C.
"The AASHO Road Test, Pavement Research." (1962). Highway Research Board
Special Report 61E, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

## a I , a2, a3 structural numbers of asphalt concrete, base, and sub-

" base layers, respectively;
cd = drainage coefficient (rigid pavements);
E = modulus of elasticity;
£[] = expected value;
ESAL = equivalent single axle load;
FR = reliability design factor;
f, = ' working stress of concrete;
k = modulus of subgrade reaction;
m2, m3 = drainage coefficients of the base and the subbase layers,
respectively;
NT = the actual number of ESAL's that the section will
N, = the allowable number of ESAL's that the section can
Pf = present serviceability index at time t;
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## pt = limiting (terminal) serviceability index;

R = regional number;
Rj = reliability at year /;
Sa = overall standard deviation;
M(0,1) = uniform distribution from 0 to 1;
ut = uniformly distributed random number from 0 to 1;
W, = modified number of ESAL's, FR x WT;
wT = predicted number of ESAL's that the section will receive
over the design period;
x = the value of random variable (generated);
Z = the standard normal deviate of a random variable;
ZR = the standard deviate corresponding to reliability R;
(x = mean value of design variable; and
a = standard deviation.

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