Research Themes‎ > ‎

Complex Systems Engineering

New systems of systems must be engineered to meet the needs of industry and society, operating robustly within an often hostile external environment
The fundamental economic, governmental and social infrastructure in our society depends on large and complex systems. As our hardware and networking capabilities increase, this leads to an increasing demand for greater software capability and integration. It is no longer appropriate to think of these large systems as single entities but as systems of systems whose components are independent entities. However, the development of such large-scale systems of systems is problematic as evidenced by reports of software cost over-runs and failures of systems to satisfy the requirements of those who procure and use them.
Within the Scottish computer science research community, we have a range of expertise that can be deployed to address the problems of complex systems engineering. These require theoretical and practical research that can develop new conceptual models and significant practical advances in software systems engineering. The research challenges in complex systems engineering span a range of areas from fundamental mathematics to education to organisational change. Our intention is to focus investment by building on existing Scottish work in two areas, namely socio-technical systems engineering and autonomic systems.
Progress in the first area requires combining both social and technical perspectives and, within Scotland, we are uniquely equipped to do so. We are active in the area of socio-technical systems engineering, with current collaborations between, for instance, St Andrews and Edinburgh, considering issues of responsibility and trust. Turning to autonomics, St Andrews is active in autonomic systems engineering and Heriot-Watt in distributed systems, and there is considerable potential for further fruitful collaborations across Scotland in distributed systems and novel systems architectures.

A number of sub-groups within this theme have been established:
Socio-technical Systems (STS-Scotland)
Parallel and multicore system


Socio-technical Systems - Scotland (STS-Scotland) is a group of people drawn from Scottish Universities with interests in socio-technical systems. We fit under the Complex Systems Engineering theme in SICSA but actually believe that socio-technical perspectives are important for all themes.

- Inaugural Meeting - Edinburgh University (December 2009)
- Healthcare and Security - University of Glasgow (April 2010): Event Programme, Wrap up
- Systems Resilience - University of St Andrews (August 2010)
A record of all past Complex Systems Engineering events can be viewed here.