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Complex Systems
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Complex Systems



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  • The point is, which apply to SE? What do people mean when they say complexity? (Table 2 from recent draft paper) Discussion instructions...go over all 3 slides then come back to this one What can we agree is the best meaning on this page? (Maybe a composite?) Next Page? Next page? Is there a best among... the three pages? (Expect: no, everything is different, though some things are key like controllability, predictable, understandable
  • Also Rigor on left, Richness on right, but as Barry Boehm said in SE LI meeting, they are kind of two different things.
  • Dave sees 1-3 as the thing, how big is it? Dave sees 4 and 5 as ilities, RMA. 6 Dave sees that as regulations, standards, etc.


  • 1. Systems Engineering Complexity Types INCOSE WMA July 14, 2009
  • 2. Agenda
    • SE has always been about complexity
    • Complexity has many spectra...which do you pick?
    • What are the types?
    • How do you measure it?
  • 3. SE and complexity
    • “ in the 1960s... engineers, scientists, and managers... had found the systems approach effective in responding to physical and organizational complexity...”
    • – T. Hughes, Rescuing Prometheus (1998)
    • What has led engineering as a separate function in organized creative technology? ...increasing system complexity...”
    • – A. Hall, A Methodology for Systems Engineering (1962)
  • 4. How SE has addressed complexity
    • Planning, and monitoring to ensure compliance
    • Hierarchy
    • Decomposition of systems
    • Order...avoiding chaotic regimes
    • Control (Marines vs. Kindergarteners)
    • Gaussian distributions
    • Trade Studies
    • Requirements
    • Architecture
    • Bottom line: Vanquish complexity
  • 5. Complexity Complex systems Simple systems Systems using systems engineering
  • 6. Spectra -1...Which systems? Less Complex More Complex Closed systems Open systems Clockwork systems Swarm systems Organized Self-organizing Weakly integrated systems Highly integrated systems Central control Decentralized control Single agents to pairs of agents Infinities of agents
  • 7. Spectra -2...Characteristics Less Complex More Complex Understandable Difficult to understand Predictable Unpredictable Equilibrium Chaos Linear Nonlinear Loose coupling Tight coupling Control Adaptability Strict hierarchies Networks
  • 8. Spectra -3...Consequences Less Complex More Complex Strict hierarchies Networks Simple behavior Strategic behavior Simple behavior Emergent behavior Clear cause and effect Unclear cause/effect Economy of scale available Economy of scale-killers Single scale Multi-scale Reductionism works Holism required
  • 9. Theoretical types of complexity have have created via Dynamic complexity Development processes Things (Systems, products, things being engineered) Environment supports contains subtypes subtypes have has From current doctoral research Conclusion: Be clear which one you are talking about. Structural complexity Dynamic complexity: long term 5 Structural complexity: Size 1 Socio-political complexity 6 Dynamic complexity: short term 4 2 Structural complexity: Connectivity 3 Structural complexity: Architecture
  • 10. Existing Measure for Type 6 (SocioPolitical)
    • Traditional program domain
      • Well-bounded problem
      • Predictable behavior
      • Stable environment
    • Transitional domain
      • Systems engineering across boundaries
      • Influence vs. authority
    • Messy frontier
      • Political engineering (power, control…)
      • High risk, potentially high reward
      • Foster cooperative behavior
    Enterprise Systems Engineering Profiler TM of MITRE Source: Renee Stevens, “Engineering Enterprise Systems: C hallenges and Prospects,” Presentation to DAS XIII , 2006.
  • 11. A process for getting to a Complexity measure
    • Suggest 3-point scale for each type of complexity: Is this traditional scale, transitional, or messy frontier?
    • For Sociopolitical, use MITRE ESE profiler (Convert to a number)
    • Ask programs to weight 6 types (normalized)
    • Then the program can watch changes
  • 12. Use ESE Profiler, get a number What are you measuring the complexity of? x Weights Sum 3 2 2 2 1 3 5 30 20 25 5 15 15 60 40 50 5 45 215 Use Development processes Things (Systems, products, things being engineered) Environment 1 Traditional 2 Transitional 3Messy Frontier Estimate: Dynamic complexity: long term 5 Structural complexity: Size 1 Socio-political complexity 6 Dynamic complexity: short term 4 2 Structural complexity: Connectivity 3 Structural complexity: Architecture
  • 13. Complexity in Program 3/31/09
  • 14. Program Complexity Over Time
  • 15. Caveats
    • I have no faith in this method at this point
    • Must find verifiably good measures
      • Repeatable by same people
      • Different people estimate same numbers
    • Must set applicability boundaries
      • Ground rules for weighting
      • Text for each type of complexity
    • Must examine and define usability (risk assessment? mitigation? comparison?...)
  • 16. Conclusion
    • Ongoing research
    • Spectra of complexity are many
    • Types fairly constant across a wide number of references
    • Measurability is of issue at this point