Saturday, 23 March 2013


Complex systems seem to be raising their head quite a bit these days - or is it just me noticing complexity now that I am into my MOOC!

Just had another example from my friend Ian from the BCS related to a paper on complex system failures - ref

What I have been thinking about is that the computer system I have been working on recently also falls into this complex system arena - see previous posts re-background. Some of the parallels are;

  1. it is fundamentally composed of simple elements - spreadsheets (yuk) and simple calculation engines re used at the coal face,
  2. it has grown by the 'system' taking the good bits and improving upon them and killing of the parts that done work well - though there is a lot of old code still lying around!
  3. nobody really knows how it works - it just does
  4. people are by far the biggest element of the system and make it work despite it running with flaws
So according to my MOOC that would put it in the complexity box - and thats without considering fragmentation functions!

So now the question is how do you go about improving such a beast? Well thats the job really, but it isn't so straightforward a question to answer now that I have had a look in the box. The simple - helicopter - view is to just simply consider it a box. Lets just buy a better box! However, some critical things hang off the back end of the output from this box. So you had better not muck those up - or you are in jail! 

Given the paper referenced above - even simple changes can have big impacts!

More thought required.....

No comments:

Post a Comment