DISTINGUISHED COMPLEX SYSTEMS SPEAKER SERIES
"Complex Systems Science in Educational and Research Programs"
Dr. Ken McLeod
Professor & Chair, Dept. of Bioengineering
November 7, 2007
Kalkin Hall, Rm. 002
Systems theory has evolved from the early 20th century concepts of control systems, to the general systems theories of Bertalanffy, to the cybernetics of Weiner, and most recently into complex adaptive systems. Complex systems are characterized not by their components but by their emergent behaviors, which arise through the interactions (typically non-linear) of the components (or agents) in the system. Complex systems are perhaps best thought of as networks, incorporating positive as well as negative feedback pathways. Though complex systems are deterministic, the non-linear interactions combined with the positive feedback aspects of these systems makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to predict system behavior in the absence of simulation.
The importance of complex systems theory lies in its ability to explain the complex behavior of certain systems without reverting to complicated mechanisms. Correspondingly, there are many applications in engineering and science where an understanding of complex systems theory may allow us to make significant, and rapid, advances. These areas include the design and development of "smart" products, self-repairing systems, artificial intelligence, and in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of complex disease, that is, health conditions for which no clear cause-effect relationships exist. The Bioengineering Program at Binghamton University is working to make Complex Systems Science the foundation of our undergraduate and graduate programs. These efforts will be reviewed, along with examples of how an understanding of complex systems science can influence science and engineering research, specifically, research on osteoporosis.
Support for this lecture series is provided through the generosity of Professor Richard M. Foote.