462208 Modeling Emergent Phenomena in Complex Sociotechnical Systems

Monday, November 14, 2016
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Zhizun Zhang and Venkat Venkatasubramanian, Department of Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY

A number of systemic failures, such as the Global Financial Crisis, BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the Northeast Power Blackout, share surprising similarities in the failure mechanisms. Such similarities call for a unified framework that can describe, model, and more importantly, manage systemic risks across domains. One of the challenges in developing such a framework is creating a universal representation, which can describe components, relationships, and emergent behaviors of a complex system. The representation should also take into consideration the human factors. Existing methods are generally suitable only for modeling a subset of complex systems. For example, equations describe system dynamics while digraph-based techniques deal with causal relationships.

In this work, we propose such a unified modeling framework by combining system teleology with axiomatic set theory. The framework abstracts elements of sociotechnical systems as sets and models system teleology as nonlinear relations. Using this framework, we can demonstrate the underlying process of emergence -- an essential element of systemic risk. We illustrate our approach using several case studies.

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See more of this Session: Interactive Session: Systems and Process Control
See more of this Group/Topical: Computing and Systems Technology Division