Complex Systems Design
Some technologies are simple, like a cup or hammer, some are complicated, like a circuit board or car, but some are truly complex such as large information systems, supply chain networks, sustainable urban environments, healthcare systems or advanced financial services. These complex engineered systems are defined by consisting of multiple diverse parts that are highly interconnected and autonomous. This course is a comprehensive introduction to the application of complexity theory to the design and engineering of systems within the context of the 21st century. From the bigger picture of why we should care to key architectural considerations, it brings together many new ideas in systems design to present an integrated paradigm and set of principles to the design of complex systems.
A New Design Paradigm
In the first section of the course we will explore some of the major themes that are shaping the design and engineering of systems in the 21st century, such as the rise of sustainability, information technology, the revolution in services and economic globalization, these will all provide a backdrop and recurring set of themes that will be woven into our discussion. This section will also give you an overview to complexity theory and the basic concepts that we will be using throughout the course, such as the model of a system, a framework for understanding complexity and a definition for complex systems. The last section of this model will give an overview to complex systems design providing you with a clear and concise description of what a complex engineered system is and how this new paradigm in design differs from our traditional approach.
Next we introduce you to the key concepts within this domain, we will talk about services and product-service systems; designing synergistic relations in order to integrate diverse components. In this section we will explore one of the key takeaways from this entire course, the idea of abstraction as a powerful tool for solving complexity.
In the third module to the course we discuss the primary principles to the designing of complex systems. Firstly networks, with these highly interconnected systems networks are their true geometry, understanding them and being able to see the systems we are designing as networks is one of our key principles we will talk about. Secondly, we will look at adaptive systems and how I.T. is enabling the next generation of technologies that are responsive, adaptive and dynamic, allowing for self-organization and a new form of bottom-up, emergent design. Lastly, in this section we will also cover the key mechanisms of evolution and how it affects the life-cycle to the systems we are designing.
In systems architecture we begin to change gears to talk about the more practical mechanics of how to design complex systems based around a new systems architecture paradigm that has arisen within I.T. over the past few decades, what is called Service Orientated Architecture. In this section we will discuss platform technologies and their internal workings, modular systems design and Event Driven Architecture which is particularly well suited to the dynamic nature of the systems we are developing.
Lastly, we present a series of lectures on the design method and process best suited to complex systems design. In this section you will be introduced to design thinking that represents a repeatable set of stages in the design process for solving complex problems.