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Structures & Foundations
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Soil & Rock Mechanics

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Fourth edition of the short course Uncertainty Quantification, Reliability and Sensitivity Analyses applied to Geotechnics and Structures – November 16th, 2023


It is our pleasure to invite you to the fourth edition of this short course, organized in HEIA-FR Fribourg Switzerland, as well as online, via Zoom. This year emphasis will be put on hands-on exercises, and on an introduction to Bayesian analysis.

Uncertainty is present everywhere in geotechnical engineering and soil-structure interaction analysis:  soil parameters are usually not known exactly, and also vary in space. Common practice consists in performing a deterministic analysis with "safety" factors. However, this technique does not give much insight into what the actual risk is. Today, a stronger integration of probabilistic approaches into safety assessment procedures and geotechnical computational mechanics in general seems appropriate.

This short course will give participants an insight into probabilistic approaches, uncertainty quantification, reliability, sensitivity and Bayesian analyses, and associated benefits with respect to a deterministic approach. Practical applications including typical geotechnical problems (slope stability, foundation bearing capacity, anchored wall, and tunnel in urban environment) will be discussed and solved using UQLab ( and ZSOIL (

Target audience

Civil and geotechnical engineers from the practice, researchers

Practical information

Date and time: Thursday November 16th, 2023. 09h00-17h00

Place: HEIA-FR, Route des Arsenaux 41, CH-1700 Fribourg, room Ars 3.83. Or given online, through Zoom

Language: English, with possible French/German translations when needed

Documentation: Copy of slides


Regular: CHF 400 in person (*), or CHF 200 taught online via Zoom

Students: CHF 200 in person (*), or CHF 100 taught online via Zoom

(*) Including coffee breaks and lunch

Registration and payment

Please fill in form

Payment details will be sent to you by e-mail after registration.


Prof. Dr Bruno Sudret

Chair of Risk, Safety and Uncertainty Quantification

IBK - Institute of Structural Engineering, ETH Zürich

Prof. Dr Stéphane Commend

iTEC - Institut des Technologies de l’Environnement Construit

Filière de Génie Civil, HEIA Fribourg


09h00-09h15 Welcome address S. Commend
09h15-10h15 Probabilistic approaches: framework and
Monte Carlo simulation
B. Sudret
10h15-10h30 Break  
10h30-11h30 Surrogate models B. Sudret
11h30-11h45 Break  
11h45-12h45      Introduction to the Bayesian approach B. Sudret
12h45-14h00 Discussion and 60’ break  
14h00-15h00 Probabilistic finite element applications 1:
slope stabilities, strip foundation, tunnel
S. Commend
15h00-15h30 Discussion and 15’ break  
15h30-16h45 Probabilistic finite element applications 2:
hands-on exercises with ZSWALLS+R
S. Commend
16h45-17h00 Discussion and short course conclusion S. Commend, B. Sudret
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