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A better world through a systems approach

Orlando Chapter Meeting - January 2017: Network Science Literacy: An easy way to Systems Thinking

  • Date:
    Jan 18, 2017 - 05:30 PM - 08:00 PM
  • Address: 3039 Technology Parkway
  • Location: Orlando, FL USA
  • Venue:
    Partnership III, Room 233

Dinner & Networking: 5:45 PM - 6:00 PM
Chapter Business: 6:000 PM - 6:15 PM
Presentation: 6:15 PM - 7:30 PM

Please RSVP at the link above so we can plan for the proper amount of food – dinner is complementary.  The meeting is open to all; you do not need to be an INCOSE member to attend. If you are not a member, we invite you to become a member of the Orlando Chapter of INCOSE at

About the Presentation:
Systems thinking is not a new concept to any problem solver. We are surrounded by examples of successful everyday systems thinking. Successful businesses take structure and processes as seriously as the product line. Seasoned engineers consider environment, and ‘illities’ as seriously as the components. There are also many examples of failures in systems thinking: The home mortgage crisis, kudzu, leaded gas, ISIS, business failures of all kinds, etc. The intent of this paper is to begin to provide a common language for thinking about systems for both engineers and non-engineers using the emerging discipline: Network Science.

Galileo, Newton and others, beginning over 400 years ago, described a reductionist and powerful conceptual tool that has altered the path of our global society: what we call ‘Science’. Unfortunately, the dramatic success of this simple reductionist concept for day-to-day problems is a major roadblock for the transition to the holistic ‘systems thinking’. New theories like Emergence, Cybernetics, Chaos, Fuzzy logic, Uncertainty, non-linear dynamics, Self-Organization and others at best are only incorporated as fringe elements in our scientific paradigm. However, combined with our growing understanding of systems-thinking failures, these theories created a tinder-box of ideas that only needed a spark. That spark came in the form of 2 independent papers published in 1998 & 1999:
** Watts, D. J.; Strogatz, S. H. (1998). "Collective dynamics of 'small-world' networks". (Bacon numbers, 6 degrees of separation)
** Barabási, Albert-László; Albert, Réka (1999). "Emergence of scaling in random networks". (Scale-free model, why the world wide web never crashes and computer viruses will never go away)

These 2 papers deal with simple but important concepts that can only be understood as complex systems – reducing the system to its components does not provide any insights. Together these 2 papers have been cited over 55,000 times and launched “Network Science” into the common lexicon. “Network Science” is now used for economics, disease, telecom, genetics, evolution and much more. Network Science is arguably leading the global shift to systems-thinking.  Network Science uses an easy, systems theory and the graphically presented networks are powerful intuitive teaching tools for both a technical and non-technical audience.

Mark Sellers

About the Speaker:
Mark Sellers is an Advisory Systems Engineer at Northrop Grumman Laser Systems in Apopka, Florida. His 38 year career began in submarines and includes work in Electronic Navigation, Laser systems, Cellular radio systems, Test Engineering, Systems Engineering, Systems Architecture, Systems Integration, Department Management, Senior Management, Project Engineering, Project Management and Program Management. He has an MS in Engineering Systems Analysis from the University of Central Florida and is pursuing a second MS in Systems Science from the State University of New York at Binghamton.  This paper was developed during his thesis research into ‘Systems Thinking’.