Nancy Leveson’s development of a revolutionary new approach to system safety modeling and analysis tools for real-time systems is helping to prevent loss of life and property in safety-critical industries including aerospace, transportation, petrochemicals, autonomous vehicles, nuclear power, and medical devices. Leveson spearheaded the evolution of software safety as a new area of research, but also considers all aspects of system safety including design, human-automation interaction, operations, management, and social aspects. Her System Safety Research Lab at MIT has created new approaches to system safety that handle the most complex systems being built today. Leveson’s contributions include a system-theoretic model of accident causality called STAMP (System-Theoretic Accident Model and Processes). STAMP replaces the traditional chain-of-events model underlying most current accident investigation, prevention, and assessment procedures. This more powerful and comprehensive model includes software, organizations, management, human decision-making, and migration of systems over time to states of heightened risk.
Tools based on STAMP have been created that can be used for both proactive hazard analysis and post-accident analysis and for new ways to perform risk analysis. STAMP and its tools have been widely adopted by the autonomous vehicle industry and aviation, are used in a wide variety of other industries, and have even been used in nonengineering applications such as hospital safety, pharmaceutical safety, and workplace safety. International standards for the tools are being created for automotive, aviation, and defense systems so her new approach to system safety can be used in the official certification of safety-critical systems.
An elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Alan Newell Award, the Nico Habermann Award, the AIAA Information Systems Award, and the SIGSOFT Award for Outstanding Software Research, Leveson is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.