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Friday, July 14 • 11:45 - 12:15
Incoming ISSS Presidential (2017-18) Address: Dr. David Rousseau - '3195 Innovation and Optimization in Nature and Design: Key focal areas for breakthrough advances in Systems Science, Engineering and Practice?'

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The increasing complexity of large systems engineering projects is matched by increasing risks in terms of cost, schedule and performance. Large civil engineering projects typically overspend by 100%, and defence projects by 50%. Two thirds of large IT systems projects fail, and on average the ones that succeed deliver about half of their planned value. Moreover, the acquisition cost of complex aerospace and defence systems is rising exponentially, threatening to overwhelm available budgets.

To address such issues the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) have called for a strengthening of the scientific foundations of Systems Engineering, and in particular for a strengthening of Systems Science and the development of principles that explain the nature of complex systems. Such principles, and the science they would enable, could support the design of innovative, robust and elegant solutions to the complex challenges facing contemporary society. This applies not only to systems engineering but to all areas of systems practice including management, intervention and mediation.

Nature exhibits an immense diversity of systems that are highly complex, resilient, adaptive and ecologically balanced. If we could distil the principles behind Natures’ ability to innovate and optimize, we would understand the nature of complex systems in a principled way. Science has always proceeded from the study of Nature, but over the last few decades many academic fields have developed systems specializations in order to investigate the systemic aspects of their subject areas, e.g. systems biology, systems medicine, systems ecology, systems economics, systems psychology etc. In these areas there is a search for systems concepts and principles under such notions as design principles, organizing principles, channelling functions, and optimality principles. In Systems Engineering, too, there is a growing interest in design patterns, optimization paradigms, and design elegance.

This broad progress provides an opportunity for these strands of work to be brought together in a collaborative effort to formulate general scientific systems principles as called for by the NSF and INCOSE. The ISSS is well placed to co-ordinate such a response to this call. The ISSS was founded on a vision to discover principles that apply to systems in general, and to co-ordinate communication between disciplines that could contribute to, or benefit from, such insights. The occurrence of isomorphically recurring patterns in naturalistic phenomena, in different contexts and across differences in scale and composition, suggested to the founders of the ISSS the existence of general principles underpinning the evolution of natural complexity. Much progress in developing systems concepts, characterizing isomorphisms and formulating heuristic systems principles has flowed from this vision, in addition to the development of specialized systems theories and methods. Today, the cross-disciplinary isomorphisms suggest that the scientific principles presently emerging from specialised systems fields can be generalized and integrated, to provide general scientific insights into Nature’s capacity for innovation and optimization at all levels of complexity. This could open the way to establishing the profound and integrated systems science we need to address the urgent challenges facing our world.

I invite you to help us seize this emerging opportunity, and to work together to develop collaboration networks and research teams that can realize this potential. The next Annual Meeting and Conference of the ISSS will be held 22-27 July 2018 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and will bring together general and specialised systems scientists, systems engineers and systems practitioners to explore common interests and challenges, learn from each other, align and consolidate progress, and gather inspiration and momentum for future work in the systems sciences.


Friday July 14, 2017 11:45 - 12:15 CEST
Kuppelsaal der TU Wien (Karlsplatz) Resselgasse, 1040 Wien, Austria