Preface to Part I Complex Systems

Jason Dauby
2011 Procedia Computer Science  
The complexity of a system is related to the number of its interactions and the degree to which these interactions are coupled. As the number of interactions grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand the totality of a system. As the degree of coupling increases, it becomes difficult to identify clear causal relationships. Our limited understanding of system complexity gives rise to properties otherwise described as emergent. Emergence in the context of man-made systems generally
more » ... ers to the manifestation of attributes and behaviours in a whole system that cannot be entirely attributed to individual subcomponents. In other words, the total system response is not the superposition of the individual component responses. This is because subsystems are not linearly independent. They are coupled in intricate and sometimes unexpected ways. Furthermore, all systems interact with their environment and must be studied in their operational context. Coupling variables exist along the system boundary making system behaviour a combination of internal dynamics and responses to external influences. The scope versus resolution dilemma is one of the inherent challenges to understanding complex systems. Highlevel system analysis attempts to describe total system behavior, but frequently lacks the fidelity to adequately describe subsystem dynamics. Reductionist approaches tend to increase analytical fidelity for the system subcomponents but risk losing sight of the coupled interactions in the holistic system view. This dilemma signals the need for new research. Part I of this book presents a wide variety of research aimed at increasing our understanding of complex systems. These papers are arranged in four subgroups: Characteristics of Complexity -These papers contribute to our understanding of complexity in terms of how to identify it and what factors influence it. Modeling Approaches for Exposing and Handling Complexity -Knowing that complexity exists, these papers present approaches for identifying complexity and usefully accommodating it in system design. Modeling Organizational and Process Complexity -These papers present a view of the complexity that exists within organizations and the operational processes they institute. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
doi:10.1016/j.procs.2011.08.005 fatcat:awjaybuppzavxbus7qqfzwtgqe