Sunday, August 21, 2011

A system is a balance: complex systems design

The Inconsistency Robustness symposium held at Stanford August 16-18, 2011 featured discussion of a number of challenges that arise in the design of complex systems, and potential solutions to them. The dialogue ranged from computer science details (for example, message passing in concurrent systems) to systemic assessments (for example, ecological concerns and homeostasis). Researcher attendees applied their varied backgrounds to the discussion.

A universal point in complex systems design is the importance of expecting and incorporating inconsistency and potential points of failure into a system. Flexible robust systems may be dynamical and adaptive within boundaries (Figure 1 - "Complex Dynamical") provided there is some mechanism for identifying and monitoring potential out-of-bounds conditions.

Figure 1. Three patterns of behavior in complex dynamical systems (Source)

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