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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, CH-1700 Fribourg or given online, through Zoom

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

Documentation: Copy of slides + 3 months license of ZSWALLS+R for reliability and sensitivity analysis of retaining walls (will be demonstrated during the course)


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


09h00-09h15Welcome addressS. Commend
09h15-10h15Probabilistic approaches: framework and
Monte Carlo simulation
B. Sudret
10h30-11h30Surrogate modelsB. Sudret
11h45-12h45     Introduction to the Bayesian approachB. Sudret
12h45-14h00Discussion and 60’ break
14h00-15h00Probabilistic finite element applications 1:
slope stabilities, strip foundation, tunnel
S. Commend
15h00-15h30Discussion and 15’ break
15h30-16h45Probabilistic finite element applications 2:
hands-on exercises with ZSWALLS+R
S. Commend
16h45-17h00Discussion and short course conclusionS. Commend, B. Sudret
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