Complexity: Designing Complex Systems for the 21st Century

Keynote by Wei Chen

The design of complex “engineered” systems in the 21st century poses a set of common challenges, to name a few, the complexity and computational cost of system analysis, the heterogeneity of information at different levels of abstraction, the various sources of uncertainties, the multidisciplinary organization with conflicting goals, and the difficulty in understanding the socio-technical interfaces. Classical systems engineering approaches which focus on processes for cascading engineering requirements from higher to lower system levels is no longer suited to dealing with the global and socio-technical aspects of the 21st century complex systems. This presentation will first explore the research challenges and opportunities in designing complex “engineered” systems, and then focus on two specific topics in this area, i.e., (1) design of multiscale systems and (2) integrating heterogeneous consumer preference into enterprise-driven product design. Research in multiscale design presents the significant benefits of using computational design techniques for designing novel materials, new products, and new processes with exceptional system performance across diverse application domains such as material, energy, and medicine. Integrating consumer choice models into product design demonstrates the potential of combining analytical choice modeling with social networks for studying the social influence on new product adoption. It is concluded in this presentation that as systems continue to grow with increased complexity and more stringent requirements, many unanswered questions can be tackled using rigorous design methodologies.