Fault Trees, Decision Trees, and Binary Decision Diagrams: A systematic comparison

Lisandro Arturo Jimenez-Roa*, Tom Heskes, Mariëlle Ida Antoinette Stoelinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


In reliability engineering, we need to understand system dependencies, identify critical components, and analyze how they cause failures. Three prominent graph models commonly used for these purposes are fault trees (FTs), decision trees (DTs), and binary decision diagrams (BDDs). These models are popular because they are easy to interpret, they are used to communicate between stakeholders of various backgrounds, and they support decision-making processes. Moreover, these models help to quantify and understand real-world problems as they allow computing reliability metrics, finding minimum cut sets, deriving logic rules, and displaying dependencies. This paper presents an overview and a systematic comparison of these models based on their (i) purpose & application, (ii) structural representation, (iii) analysis, (iv) construction, and (v) benefits & limitations. Furthermore, we use a running example to showcase the models in practice. For all three models, we highlight their most common applications and provide conversion methods to translate between them.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 25 Aug 2020


  • fault tree analysis
  • decision tree
  • binary decision diagram
  • systematic comparison

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