Computer-Based System Safety Essential Reading List

Here is a quick start resource guide for computer-based system safety literacy. If you work on computer-based system safety and you aren't familiar with the below case studies, you really need to read them.  (Not just safety engineers -- everyone!)

Patriot Missile [Wikipedia]

Essential Case Studies: Because those who have not read history are doomed to repeat it.
Additional Case Studies:
Recommended Supplemental Materials
Other Case Studies: (Still important, and should be read by anyone digging deep into safety. But less specifically related to computer-based system risks.)
Other Related Topics:
Resources for deeper engagement:
  • Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge on Safety Engineering (SEBoK)
  • NASA Safety library (index | Safety Guidebook)
  • NASA Real System Failure story collection by Kevin Driscoll  (Home | slides)
  • FAA System Safety Handbook (FAA
    • FAA AC 25.1309-1A - System Design and Analysis (FAA)
  • USAF System Safety Handbook (USAF)
  • List of NHTSA software-related automotive recalls (Blog)
  • List of accidents and incidents involving commercial aircraft (Wikipedia)
  • Safety of Work podcast (Rae & Provan) (Podcast)

Advanced Specialty Topics/Research & Papers I Personally Recommend:

    NOTE: While Wikipedia is not always an authoritative source, for these sorts of events it tends to present useful summary descriptions.

    If you think something important is missing, let me know!
    Last update 6/24/2024


    1. Leveson, "Engineering A Safer World", PDF download from

      Neumann, "Computer-Related Risks" (based on the Risks Digest archives as of 1994).

    2. Excellent list. While I've read most of these, seeing this list there's a few I want to add to my reading list.

    3. The Eschede train accident should be included under Other Mishap Case Studies, not only because it highlights the importance of proper maintenance procedures, but also the legal aftermath where officials and engineers were charged with manslaughter.


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