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1 Fault Classification (ebook)

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What are computer faults? Before answering,
we need to conceptualise faults in computer
• To better understand the fault tolerance
phenomena in a computer system, we need
fundamental concepts of computer faults, errors
and failures
– Analogous to the study of how electric current is generated in relation to the flow-

of-an-electron concept

• Here we need two models: physical-logical-

effective machines model and fault->error-
>failure model.
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Fault-Error-Failure Three-
Machine Model
• Physical Machine
– system’s physical parts and software code
• Logical Machine
– system’s logical part at the circuitry/gate level,
where programs are executed and data manipulated
• Effective Machine
– system’s universe, in which the external effect of
an error is exhibited

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Faults -> Errors -> Failures
• A fault: that part of the system’s physical state or
software code which malfunctions (per system
spec), leading to a logical error in the system (may
not be instant, ie a latent fault)
• An error: that part of the system’s logical state
which is liable to lead to a failure (may not be
instant, ie a latent error)
• A system failure: that state of delivered service not
complying with the specified service
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• We know a computer failure is caused by a computer error
that is in turn caused by a computer fault. But what are the
possible causes of a computer fault? See next slide…

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What are the causes/origin of
computer faults?
• specification mistakes
– incorrect algorithms, incorrectly specified requirements (timing, power,
• implementation mistakes
– poor design, software coding mistakes
• component defects
– manufacturing imperfections, random device defects,
– components wear-outs
• external factors
– radiation, lightning, operator mistakes

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How could we classify faults
according to their temporal
nature? … next lecture…

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