The use of explicit probabilistic methods in the design and operation of major engineering facilities has been a very active endeavor in the last three decades, e.g., in civil engineering, nuclear reactor safety, chemical engineering, and the hazardous waste disposal industry. Naturally, the evolution of methods and analytical tools has varied significantly among applications. Yet, many of the issues and models are common.

Recognizing the need for a forum, in which analysts and practitioners would meet and exchange ideas, members of the Southern California Chapter of the Society for Risk Analysis, under the leadership of Professor George Apostolakis (then of the University of California), organized the first PSAM Conference in Beverly Hills, California, in February, 1991. Professor Apostolakis acted as the General and Technical Program Chairman. The organizers' vision was to create a truly international and multi-disciplinary conference.

The success of the Beverly Hills conference led to requests for a series of conferences. The second conference was held in San Diego, California, in March, 1994. The General Chairman was Dr. Michael Stamatelatos of Scientech, Inc., and the Technical Program Chairman was Professor Apostolakis. In 1996, the conference was held in conjunction with ESREL '96, in Crete, Greece. The General Chairman was Dr. Yannis Papazoglou of the Greek Research Center "Demokritos," and the Technical Program Chairman was Dr. P. Carlo Cacciabue of the European Union's Ispra Joint Research Center.

The PSAM Conferences have become the premier international forums for communication among experts in risk and reliability assessment and management. The sessions are structured in a way that encourages the free exchange of ideas. Plenary lectures by recognized authorities in wide fields of interest provide an opportunity for the participants to be presented with an integrated view of the latest developments. The conferences are attended by more than 500 researchers and practitioners from around the world.

The magnitude of the required effort has necessitated the creation of a corporation to handle the administrative and financial affairs associated with these conferences. The International Association for PSAM (IAPSAM) is a California not-for-profit corporation whose sole purpose is the operation of the PSAM conferences. It has a Board of Directors that consists of 15 risk and reliability experts from around the world. One third of the Board members are rotated every two years. Thus, a truly international organization has been created guaranteeing the successful continuation of the PSAM conferences.