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315 – Modeling Socio-Technical Systems

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Socio-technical systems are systems where (groups of) humans interact with (non-trivial) technical systems; an example is the power grid. The people, the technical system and the combination might easily lead to complex behavior that is hard to predict and control over the long term. However, as illustrated by, for example, the need to transition our energy infrastructure to a more sustainable structure, it is necessary for society to “control” such systems. Igor Nikolic is a professor at the TU Delft where he uses agent-based modeling approach to try to understand, and thus help control and evolve such systems. We discuss the systems, the challenges as well as the modeling approaches.

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238 – Societal Complexity, Part II: Today’s Perspective

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In October 2015, Joseph Tainter was my guest in omega tau 184 to discuss his concept of increasing complexity and eventual collapse of societies. In this episode, our guest Paul Arbair discusses these concepts in the light of today’s rising populism in several countries. The episode is based on two articles Paul wrote on his blog: one on Brexit and one on Trump.

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184 – Societal Complexity and Collapse

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Joseph Tainter, our guest in this episode, is an anthropologist and historian. In 1988 he wrote a book called The Collapse of Complex Societies in which he argues that societies inevitably increase their inherent complexity, and, if and when the complexity becomes too “expensive” (diminishing returns), a society will collapse. In this episode, Joe explains his rationale and provides historic examples for collapse. We then discuss his theory relative today’s world, concluding with a not alltogether positive outlook.

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138 – Fly-by-Wire im A320

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Diese Episode betrachtet das Fly-by-Wire System des A320 im Detail; in gewisser Weise ist diese Episode eine Fortsetzung der letzten Episode aus anderer Perspektive. Ich unterhalte mich dazu mit Reinhard Reichel vom Institut für Luftfahrtsysteme der Universität Stuttgart. Es geht um die Grundlagen von Fly-by-wire, die Funktionalitäten die es typischerweise zur Verfügung stellt, sowie die Architektur des Systems im A320. Dabei gehen wir auch auf einige Grundlagen von robusten, redundanten Systemen ein.

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100 – System Health Management

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In this 100th episode of omega tau we talk to Dr. Stephen B. Johnson about system health management, a set of techniques and processes used to improve system dependability. The episode is based on a book Stephen co-edited, and as a consequence of Stephen’s background, we use aerospace examples in this episode. We discuss the fundamental concepts such as functions, states and the state vector, failures and faults. We then discuss the influence of complexity on failures, as well as human involvement. We discuss means to prevent failures such as fault isolation, redundancy and model adjustment. We conclude the three-hour conversation by looking at the future of systems engineering and system health management with a particular focus on formal methods.

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