In common terms, an event is a finite change in the state of an entity during a finite timeframe. The variability of the factors -- the nature and magnitude of the state change, the length and suddenness of the timeframe -- can affect the interpretation of the word significantly for any given situation (e.g., micro-events, macro-events). For example, an event could be a major industrial accident taking days to develop, or it might be the ejection of a photon from a radioactive atom in a tiny fraction of a second. In other words, every event has a characteristic scale associated with it.

In Root Cause Analysis, we are often concerned with identifying and characterizing individual events. However, we are also usually interested in how those events relate to each other, particularly the sequence in which they occur -- the Sequence of Events. In constructing such a sequence for investigatory purposes, it is incredibly important to ensure that the event scales are consistent. For example, when analyzing a traffic incident, it would be totally inappropriate to change scale drastically within a single sequence of events. (Imagine enumerating dozens upon dozens of micro-events leading up to a man stepping from a curb and onto the roadway, and then concluding the sequence with "man dies when hit by bus".)

See all uses of the word event on this site.

by Bill Wilson
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Last updated: October 4, 2014 at 13:04 pm

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