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Complexity and the Systems Approach

Complexity and the Systems Approach

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the systems definition of complexity
the systems definition of complexity

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Published by: sam iam / Salvatore Gerard Micheal on Dec 18, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/18/2010

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Complexity and the Systems Approach
sg micheal, 2010/JUN/05Systems definition of 
complexity
:sub-definition: ample: statistically significant in number sub-definition: trivial: easily or simply characterized1. an ample supply of distinctly different component types2. a non-trivial arrangement of components for nominal system operation3. typically exhibits synergy4. a non-trivial interface to external systems4 is not strictly required for complexity but is typically found in natural / human made systems.Synergy is difficult to quantify and is difficult for a Western mind to appreciate. BecauseWestern science was historically based on reduction, admittedly a very expedient approach to problem solving, Western scientists and engineers have had trouble understanding, appreciating,and integrating the concept. Reduction works amazingly well on simple non-systemic problems.But for precisely this reason, Westerners have over-applied reduction - attempting to 'divide andconquer' problems which are systemic in nature or problems associated with complex systems. If indeed reduction works with some of these mis-applications, it is likely chance or a result of ill-framing the problem in the first place. The general rule-of-thumb for applying the systems-reliability approach to solving a problem is: if you suspect a problem is complex, it probably is;when in doubt, apply the systems approach.Purpose of definition:Complexity is a modern concept. Many approaches are ambiguous / ill defined / overly specificin application. Many, if not most, modern problems require the systems-reliability approach.This is specifically required because of the level of complexity involved. To reiterate, modern problems are complex; complexity requires explicit definition; complex problems require thesystems-reliability approach.Illustrations:a simple system: a ball rolling down a hilla simple dynamical system: a speed governor in an operating school-busa complex natural system: dolphin sonar a complex human-made system: the American defense systemDynamical system: past inputs affect current outputs.Unstable system: inputs or state trajectory result in catastrophic failure.Examples: long tension bridges under sheer wind stress, an insane human mind, a speedingvehicle on black-ice over uneven terrain, a poorly maintained/designed space shuttle duringtakeoff or reentry, a poorly operated nuclear reactor such as Chernobyl, the Earth's climatesystem subject to unregulated human pollutants, the modern global unregulated economicsystem,..Reliability: basically entails dependability. If a component/subsystem has a particular failure rate

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