A better world through a systems approach

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 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  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

Complex Systems Working Group Meetings at the 2019 International Workshop

The INCOSE Complex Systems Working Group will be meeting during the 2019 INCOSE International Workshop (January 26 – 29, 2019 at the Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach in Torrance, CA, 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 (connection information is below).

The WG will meet twice during the IW, on Sunday January 27 (1300 – 1700) in Executive Suite 1705 and Tuesday January 29 (0900-1200) in Executive Suite 1619, all times Pacific Standard Time.  

Sunday’s session will be a WG overview and discussion, including a review of 2018 WG activities, to enable new participants to orient to the WG’s charter and work.  In addition, Jim Moore will present to the group on the concept of a computable universe and its relationship to optimal structures in systems engineering and model-based engineering.

On Tuesday, we will focus on projected work in the coming year – candidate topics include extending the current complex systems exemplars work, exploring complexity considerations associated with operationalizing artificial intelligence capabilities, enhancing the treatment of complex systems topics in the SEBoK and systems engineering education and training.  By the close of the IW, we will have developed and agreed on an agenda for 2019 projects for the WG.

In addition to these engagements, 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:

  • Meeting with the Natural Science Working Group on Saturday from 1530-1700 to discuss joint work conducted in 2018 on complex system characterization and exemplars.
  • Meeting with System Science Working Group on Monday from 1300-1700. Topics include system patterns, category theory, and system pathology.

If you have particular topics you would like to bring up for discussion during the WG sessions at IW, please let us know.

We are looking forward to the opportunity to continue our work and engagement with you during the 2019 IW.  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

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Planned Presentations at the Next Annual