Introduction

of systems failure known as reliability theory (Barlow and Proshan, 1975; Barlow et al., 1965; Gavrilov, 1978; Gavrilov and Gavrilova, 1991, 2001, 2003a, 2004a, 2005; Gavrilov et al., 1978).

Reliability theory was historically developed to describe failure and aging of complex electronic (military) equipment, but the theory itself is a very general theory based on mathematics (probability theory) and systems approach (Barlow and Proschan, 1975; Barlow et al., 1965). It may therefore be useful to describe and understand the aging and failure of biological systems too. Reliability theory may be useful in several ways: first, by providing a kind of scientific language (definitions and cross-cutting principles), which helps to create a logical framework for organizing numerous and diverse observations on aging into a coherent picture. Second, it helps researchers to develop an intuition and an understanding of the main principles of the aging process through consideration of simple mathematical models, having some features of a real world. Third, reliability theory is useful for generating and testing specific predictions, as well as deeper analyses of already collected data. The purpose of this chapter is to review the theoretical reliability models and approaches, which help to understand the mechanisms and dynamics of systems failure in aging.

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