INCOSE Webinar: Relevance of Natural Systems Science to Systems Engineering: Brief Intro to A System of Systems Processes (SoSP) Theory
Date: 16 February 2011
Time: 15:00 UTC / 11:00 AM EST
Presenter(s): Dr. Len Troncale
General Webinar Details: Webinar 28
OK. So you are a systems engineer and your profession is expected to help solve the wide range of complex system of systems problems we now face. Where will you get the knowledge and tools to satisfy this great need? You have the traditional systems engineering skills and tools. But suppose you had the possibility of setting up an incredibly detailed test of what worked best for designing lasting complex systems. Suppose this test had gone on for literally billions of years, through countless trials and events, and allowed you to try vast diversities of possible configurations. Suppose this test was merciless in allowing only the workable solutions to continue. Suppose this test allowed you to arrange a multitude of inquiries into its design secrets on every possible scale. Sound like a systems’ engineer’s ideal dream? It isn’t. It is real. Natural physical, astronomical, chemical, geological, and biological phenomena constitute a real test bed for understanding how complex systems work. By comparing numerous case studies across these diverse systems as they have been studied by their respective sciences for hundreds of years, we can detect a hundred fundamental and isomorphic “systems processes” that have remained constant across all that diversity of entities, across all those different size scales, across all those unique origin times and mechanisms. Further, we can employ data and results from a multitude of rigorous published experiments to discover and explicitly describe how these hundred systems processes influence each other (Linkage Propositions) rendering the resulting theory truly a system of systems mechanisms. The consistency of the processes and their Linkage interactions argues for their importance and their efficacy. Perhaps even more significantly, we can harvest useful information on “motifs,” “circuits,” “sub-graphs,” and “modules“ that are repeatedly used by successful natural systems. The resulting “system of systems processes” theory (SoSP) might provide (i) a more reliable definition of systems complexity, (ii) expand our understanding of how complex systems work, (iii) lead to evolution of new tools that would be of practical utility to INCOSE for its role in dealing with crisis societal problems, (iv) suggest a unified ontology/taxonomy of systems, (v) provide a foundation for a “science” of systems, (vi) enable a very much needed integration/synthesis of the many current competing systems approaches, and (vii) even lead to a new conception of the types of systems we should be engineering. This short presentation will be limited to an overview description of how case studies from the natural sciences can be used to elucidate many “systems processes” as well as the specific Linkage Propositions that explain how they influence each other to produce lasting complex systems. It will suggest expansion of the concept of “non-linear causality” (so critical to definitions of complexity and to engineering systems) to a series of types of non-linear causes that may inform use of systems design tools. It will also introduce work on the new field of “Systems Pathology” which uses the SoSPT to define dozens of complex systems “diseases” (design errors) in detail, and explains the causes of the negative consequences observed.
Dr. Len Troncale is Professor Emeritus of Cell and Molecular Biology, and past Chairman of the Biological Sciences Department at California State Polytechnic University. He is also Director of the Institute for Advanced Systems Studies, and Coordinator of its NSF-supported Systems-Integrated-Science General Education Program. He has served as VP and Managing Director of the International Society for General Systems Research (SGSR), and President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS). He has served as Visiting Professor at the University of
Vienna, Austria, CSU Monterey Bay, and CSU Sonoma and as Research Associate at IIASA (the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis). He was a member of the Board of Directors of IFSR (International Federation for Systems Research) and still serves on the Board of Trustees for ISSS. Currently he has been presenting numerous talks at INCOSE and at Systems Biology conferences and serves as Lead for two official projects of the Systems Science Working Group of INCOSE (the International Council on Systems Engineering). Dr. Troncale has published 87 articles, abstracts, editorials and reports, 18 conference posters, served as Editor on 11 projects, delivered 115 invited and computerized presentations and demonstrations in 23 countries and served as P.I. on 52 grants and contracts for $5.3M from a variety of federal, state, and private organizations such as the NSF, DOE, ONR, HUD, the HHMI and the Keck Foundation, as well as the CSU System.
OK. So you are a systems engineer and your profession is expected to help solve the wide range of complex system of systems problems we now face.