MDH research can prevent everyday accidents

Jan 18, 2018 | Research/Cooperation Global

For people in a society to be able to make use of technology, such as cars, trains or medical equipment, we must have computer systems which steer the technology that work in a safe way and do not expose people to danger. MDH researcher Jiale Zhou has been looking more closely at how the safety in these computer systems can be improved.

– The aim of my research has been to try to improve the safety analysis of safety-critical systems. In this way the risk of hazards and the damage that hazards cause can decrease, says Jiale Zhou, who has recently defended his thesis in Computer Science at MDH.

During his doctoral student time at MDH Jiale Zhou has been focusing on safety-critical systems, that is to say computer systems that can lead to great damage if they do not work as they should do. These systems are to be found in cars, trains, aeroplanes and medical equipment, for example. When producing a safety-critical system, system analysts work on identifying potential hazards for the system, which can cause a lot of damage to people, the environment or the economy. 


Jiale Zhou.

– The problem is that there is no clear definition of what is counted as a hazard, which means that different analysts can make different assessments. A car driver could for example claim that a ball rolling out onto the road in front of a moving car is a hazard, whereas a researcher would define a hazard as a certain state, such as an engine breakdown for example. When there isn’t a clear definition of what is counted as a hazard the analysts can miss certain risks, says Jiale Zhou.

In his doctoral thesis, ”An Ontological Approach to Safety Analysis of Safety-Critical Systems”, Jiale Zhou and his colleagues have produced a definition of what is counted as a hazard in a safety-critical system. Also presented in the thesis are several approaches for how to identify the risks and the causes of these hazards.

– The purpose of producing a clear definition is to facilitate the work of detecting potential hazards and then designing the systems accordingly. In this way we can create safer systems and prevent dangers and accidents for people using the systems, says Jiale Zhou.

After several years as both a student and doctoral student at MDH the time has now come for Jiale Zhou to return to China.  

– I've been at MDH since 2008, but now I hope to be able to continue researching into safety-critical systems and be a part of the development within this field in China, he says.