In this work, a novel framework is proposed for the risk based design optimization of engineering systems by minimizing the demand on the system components’ accuracy (which directly relates to their cost). The fundamental development of this work is an analytical upper bound for calculating the probability of failure. This is in contrast with First Order Reliability Method (FORM), where a lower bound is used in calculating the probability of failure. FORM is one of the most popular methods for reliability analysis of engineering systems. In this paper, we show that FORM results in an optimistic measure of risk, hence potentially catastrophic in engineering design. A more accurate measure of failure is proposed by utilizing an analytical upper bound for the distribution of reliability index (the length of the most probable point vector to origin). This distribution is a function of the eigenvalues of the linearized limit state function in the normal space which results in a better understanding of failure phenomenon. The proposed formulation is computationally efficient and straightforward to solve, since it only involves finding eigenvalues in each iteration. This algorithm is applicable to any linearizable continuous limit state function with any type of distribution for the design variables. The method is applied to two examples and its accuracy is compared with the Monte Carlo simulation and FORM, demonstrating its effectiveness and value.

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