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Announcement of the Publication of the Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Assessment

Announcement of the Publication of the Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Assessment

By Edward L. Melnick and Aaron Tenenbein


Exposure to risk permeates our daily experiences. The assessment of risk and strategies to reduce the likelihood of suffering harm or loss is the concern of all scientific endeavors. However, the study of risk has never evolved into its own area with its own language and methodologies. Instead, risk analysis is a cross‑cutting topic that combines areas which might include such diverse topics as engineering, medicine, finance theory, public policy, insurance, and the military. Independent of the specific areas of applications, the core ideas behind risk assessment and analysis are essentially the same. A solution depends upon the probabilities of the occurrence of a set of potential problems, the probabilities of different levels of catastrophes being realized if a particular problem occurs, and a loss function associated with the cost of each catastrophe. The challenge is the quantification of the probabilities and costs to specific problems for setting policies that minimize costs while maximizing benefits.


Different disciplines have met those challenges in a variety of ways. A few have explicitly built upon the large body of statistical work subsumed in probabilistic risk assessment, but most have not. Many have developed alternative strategies that are robust to specific kinds of uncertainty, or which handle adversarial situations, or which deal with dynamically changing action spaces such as decision making in an economic environment. These kinds of diverse settings have broadened risk analysis beyond the traditional mathematical formulations.


The need for a unifying authoritative reference work on risk assessment was recognized in 2005 by John Wiley and Sons and the Editors‑in‑Chief, Brian Everitt and Edward Melnick. Their efforts have culminated in the publication of the “Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Assessment” in 2008. This publication consists of the following 11 major areas with the section editors in parenthesis:


  1. Risk management (Tony Cox)
  2. Computer security (Samyi Saydjari)
  3. Environmental risk (Walt Piegorsch)
  4. Insurance/actuarial risk (Michel Denuit)
  5. Financial/credit risk (Ngai Chan)
  6. Toxic substances/chemical risk (Dennis Paustenbach and Jennifer Roberts)
  7. Reliability (Frank Coolen and Leslie Walls)
  8. Bayesian methods/decision analysis (Simon French)
  9. Clinical risk (Susan Sereika)
  10. Epidemiology/public health (Susan Sereika)
  11. Homeland security (Edward Melnick).


 The area of Insurance/Actuarial Risk contains many articles by such actuaries as Sam Cox, Enrique de Alba, Jed Frees, Esther Frostig, Ragnar Norberg, Harry Panjer, Aaron Tenenbein, and Gordon Willmot.


For further information on this publication, consult the Web site: