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Improved statistical estimation of impact sensitivity

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Accurate estimation of impact sensitivity is crucial for safe production, handling, storage and transport of energetic materials. Of particular interest is the median h50, namely the impact energy level at which there is a probability of 50% of an explosion occurring. This value has been shown to correlate with quantum chemical properties of the energetic material in question, providing insight into the underlying causes which govern sensitivity. However, in practical applications, it may be more important to estimate extreme values like the 99% quantile h99. In addition to providing point estimates, we would like to derive confidence intervals to address their uncertainty. However, NATO ’s official recommended procedure for estimating impact sensitivity is based on a pen-and-paper approximation from the late 1940s and is not suitable for estimating extreme quantiles nor for deriving any confidence intervals. In this talk we go through the optimal ways of estimating all quantiles and deriving confidence intervals for sensitivity data. We will see how these yield more insight into the data obtained from experiments by means of confidence curves, which provide a useful graphical summary of confidence intervals at all possible confidence levels. An example with the explosive HMX is given.

This talk is part of the Physics and Chemistry of Solids Group series.

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