Engineering resilient complex systems: the necessary shift toward complexity science

Giuliano Punzo, Anurag Tewari, Eugene Butans, Massimiliano Vasile, Alan Purvis, Liz Varga, Martin Mayfield

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4 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


This position article addresses resilience in complex engineering and engineered systems (CES). It offers a synthesis of academic thinking with an empirical analysis of the challenge. This article puts forward argumentations and a conceptual framework in support of a new understanding of CES resilience as the product of continuous learning in between disruptive events. CES are in continuous evolution and with each generation they become more complex as they adapt to their environment. While this evolution takes place, new failure modes arise with the engineering of their resilience having to evolve in parallel to cope with them. Our position supports the role of an overarching complexity science framework to investigate the resilience of CES, including their temporal evolution, resilience features, the management and decision layers, and the transparency of boundaries between interconnected systems. The conclusion identifies the value of a complexity perspective to address CES resilience. Extending the latest understanding of resilience, we propose a circular framework where features of CES are related to a resilience event and complexity science explains the importance of interconnections with external systems, the increasingly fast system evolution and the stratification of heterogeneous layers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3865-3874
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Systems Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2020


  • resilience
  • complexity theory
  • testing
  • fault tolerance
  • systems engineering and theory

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