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INCOSE Complex Systems Working Group

Mission & Objectives

The purpose of the Complex Systems Working Group is to enhance the ability of the systems engineering community to deal with complexity.  The Complex Systems Working Group works at the intersection of complex systems sciences and systems engineering, focusing on systems beyond those for which traditional systems engineering approaches and methods were developed.

The Complex Systems Working Group focuses on the challenges and opportunities presented by systems with large numbers of components, with even greater numbers of interactions distributed in scope across multiple scales and/or across large areas.  Systems of interest are characterized by rich interdependence among diverse components, non-linearity, open systems boundaries, networks of causality and influence (vice linear causal chains), emergence, varied and changing system goals, self-organization, and multi-level adaptation.  These traits limit the utility of traditional systems engineering paradigms, which are generally centralized, goal oriented, requirements driven, and reductionist in approach. These traits, however, are increasingly the norm and not the exception. The Complex Systems Working Group collaborates with the Systems Sciences Working Group to define the scientific basis of these characteristics.

Further, complexity is a characteristic of more than just a technical system being developed.  The socio-technical ecosystem in which a system under development will be employed exhibits these attributes, as does the environment that gave rise to the challenge or opportunity to which the system was developed in response.  Further, the design and development of technical systems is a complex endeavor itself.  It is critical for systems engineers to understand the nature of the systems with which they are working, and of which they are a part, to be effective. 

The goals of the Complex Systems Working Group are to communicate the complexity characteristics to systems engineering practitioners, provide knowledge and expertise on complex systems in support of other INCOSE working groups working in their systems engineering areas, facilitate the identification of tools and techniques to apply in the engineering of complex systems, and provide a map of the current, diverse literature on complex systems to those interested in gaining an understanding of complexity.  

Complexity Primer Recognized as 2016 INCOSE Product of the Year

The Complex Systems Working Group was recognized during the Opening Plenary of the 2017 International Workshop, receiving the award for the 2016 Product of the Year for A Complexity Primer for Systems Engineers.  Congratulations to the group, and particular thanks to all those who contributed to its development and acceptance as an INCOSE product.  The intent for the primer was for it to be a “living document”, with regular updates and supplemental materials that drill down into more detail on particular topics of interest to the SE community.  You can download the Primer from the INCOSE Store.

 

Leadership

Chair:

Dr. Jimmie McEver, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory (jimmie.mcever@jhuapl.edu)

Co-Chair:

Dr. Michael Watson, NASA – Marshall Space Flight Center (michael.d.watson@nasa.gov)


Working Group Products

 

Product Type  Last Updated
EnergyTech 2017 Keynote Presentation  Nov 2017
Cybersecurity as a Complex Adaptive Systems Presentation  June 2017
Dealing with Complexity in Modern Engineering Endeavors  Presentation  July 2017
A Complexity Primer for Systems Engineers*         White Paper      July 2016
Complex Systems WG Info Paper Brochure  June 2015
Complexity Primer Overview Presentation  November 2015

*2016 INCOSE Product of the Year.  Available for download in the INCOSE Store.

Planned Working Sessions at the Next Events

Members and Friends of the INCOSE Complex Systems Working Group:

The INCOSE Complex Systems Working Group will be meeting during the 2017 INCOSE International Workshop (January 20 – 23, 2018 in Jacksonville, FL, USA).  If you are participating in the Workshop, I hope you will consider joining us for one or more of our sessions.  There will also be GlobalMeet connectivity for those who wish to dial into the discussions.

This is also a Call for Presentations for members who would like to present topics in which they are engaged to the rest of the WG.  In general, we are asking for “TED-talk” type presentations – 15-20 minute informal talks on topics that are (or should be) of interest to the WG to seed discussion and potentially lead to topics for 2018 WG work, but it may be possible to allow for more time for some especially “hot” topics.  If you have something you would like to present, please email Michael Watson and me with a brief title and abstract by Friday January 12, 2018.  In particular, we are seeking talks related to the following topical areas (though proposals on other important topics are welcome):

  • Transformation in engineering education and training to reflect complexity thinking
  • Methods and tools for understanding and/or working with complex systems
  • Opportunities to better incorporate complex systems thinking in the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK)

The WG will meet three times during the IW, on Sunday afternoon (1300 – 1700), Monday afternoon (1300 – 1700) and Tuesday morning (0900-1200), all times Eastern Standard Time.  Sunday’s session will be a WG overview and discussion, including a review of 2017 WG activities, to enable new participants to orient to the WG’s charter and work.  On Monday and Tuesday, we will focus on projected work in the focus areas listed above.  By the close of the IW, we will have developed and agreed on an agenda for 2018 projects for the WG.

In addition to WG discussions, we will be meeting with other WGs during the IW to identify topics and projects of mutual interest for collaboration in the coming year.  Sessions currently planned are:

  • Joint meeting with the Critical Infrastructure Protection and Recovery (CIPR) WG on Monday afternoon to discuss modeling and simulation challenges associated with complex multiplex networked systems.
  • Joint meeting with System Sciences on Tuesday morning. Topics include topology and category theory as a mathematical basis for understanding complex systems and application (Dr. Larry Lambe presenting).

Detailed agendas, location and remote connection information will be distributed in a future announcement.  If you have a request for particular items to be considered for the CxS WG meeting agenda, please let me know.

I hope to see you in Jacksonville at the IW later this month.  Please be in touch if you have any questions.

Take care,

Dr. Jimmie McEver (jimmie.mcever@jhuapl.edu)
Chair, INCOSE Complex Systems Working Group
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Dr. Michael Watson (michael.d.watson@nasa.gov)
Co-Chair, INCOSE Complex Systems Working Group
NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center


Planned Presentations at the Next Annual

Complex Systems Working Group
INCOSE IW 2018 Meeting Schedule

Session Day/Time

Topic(s)

Location

Sunday

21 Jan 2018

1:00 – 5:00 PM

  • Complex Systems WG Overview
  • Introductions/WG stories
  • Initial discussion or candidate work topics
    • Transformation in engineering education and training to reflect complexity thinking
    • Methods and tools for understanding and working with complex systems
    • Opportunities to better incorporate complex systems thinking in the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK)
    • Other topics (complexity considerations in autonomy/AI)
  • System Safety WG Collaboration (4:45PM)

City Terrace 11

GlobalMeet 03

Monday

22 Jan 2018

1:00 – 2:30 PM

  • Meeting with Critical Infrastructure, Protection, and Recovery Working Group
  • Modeling and analysis considerations

Board Room 4

Monday

22 Jan 2018

2:30 – 3:30 PM

  • Tools and methods for working in complexity


City Terrace 11

GlobalMeet 08

Monday

22 Jan 2018

3:30 – 5:00 PM

  • Joint meeting with System Sciences Working Group
  • Systemology Primer, David Rousseau

St. Johns

Tuesday

23 Jan 2018

9:00 – 11:00 AM

  • SE education/training transformation discussion and planning
  • 2018 WG project identification

City Terrace 11

GlobalMeet 08

Tuesday

23 Jan 2018

11:15 AM –

12:15 PM

  • Joint meeting with System Sciences Working Group
  • Categories, Mathematics and Systems, Larry Lambe

St. Johns

 

Remote Connection Information

Session Day/Time

MeetingPlace Information

Sunday

1PM – 5PM EST

Meeting Details Web Address: https://incose.pgimeet.com/GlobalmeetThree

Access Number: 1-719-457-6209

Guest Passcode: 195 372 9323

Monday

2:30PM – 3:30PM EST

Meeting Details Web Address: https://incose.pgimeet.com/GlobalmeetEight

Access Number: 1-719-325-2630

Guest Passcode: 340 501 8119

Tuesday

9AM – 11AM EST

Meeting Details Web Address: https://incose.pgimeet.com/GlobalmeetEight

Access Number: 1-719-325-2630

Guest Passcode: 340 501 8119


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