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NAKFI 2008 - Complex Systems

Robustness in Complex Systems
James B. Bassingthwaighte

"Robust" we can loosely define as "sturdy" or "resistant to perturbation. Large systems are not necessarily robust, and even systems carefully designed with multiple controllers can be subject to failure or susceptible to deliberate attack. These same systems tend to be complex, and with their multiplicity of components also tend to exhibit complex dynamics, behavior not due to any one component and thus called "emergent" or "chaotic" behavior of the integrated system. Expressing robustness in numbers requires defining a particular goal, akin to the idea of choosing the objective of an optimization process, but as a generality is a ratio of the perturbing force to the degree of system deformation.