A Caltech Library Service

Managing complexity and uncertainty

Doyle, John C. (2004) Managing complexity and uncertainty. In: SICE 2004 Annual Conference. Vol.3. IEEE , Piscataway, NJ, xlvi-xlix. ISBN 4-907764-22-7.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Modem fields of science and engineering have evolved remarkably high degrees of specialization. The present division of intellectual labor is structured by the assumption that complex systems can be "vertically" decomposed into layers of materials and devices versus the systems they compose. A further assumption is that each layer is further "horizontally" divided into chemical, mechanical, and electrical materials/devices as well as processing, communication, computation, and control systems. A central cause of the fragmentation of complex systems into isolated subdisciplines has traditionally been the inherent intractability of problems that require integration of, say, communications, computation, and control. This has necessitated specialized and domain-specific assumptions and methods that can appear arbitrary and ad hoc to researchers in other subdomains. The power of this decomposition is that it has facilitated a massively parallel development of advanced technologies, the proliferation of sophisticated domain-specific theories, allowing each subdiscipline to function independently, with only higher level system integrators required to be generalists. An increasingly troublesome side-effect is a growing intellectual Tower of Babel where experts within one subdiscipline can rarely have meaningful contact with experts from other subdisciplines, and may even be largely unaware of their existence. For example, the term "information" is used by everyone, but often has not just different but almost opposite meanings in, say, communications, computing, or controls systems, let alone between systems and devices.

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Doyle, John C.0000-0002-1828-2486
Additional Information:© 2004 IEEE.
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190306-084855706
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:J. C. Doyle, "Managing complexity and uncertainty," SICE 2004 Annual Conference, Sapporo, 2004, pp. xlvii-l.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:93571
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Mar 2019 17:07
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 20:55

Repository Staff Only: item control page