Modelling complex infra-systems

Course subject(s) Module 5: Modelling Complexity

Our focus for this week is:  Modelling complex infra-systems. We will first explain modelling is so important when you talk about complex infrastuctures.


Surely you can imagine why one would want to model some aspect of reality, like an infrastructure system. Actually, from a complex systems perspective modelling infrastructures is very important. After all, from that complex systems perspective we can’t fully predict, upfront, how a system works. There is a lot of deep uncertainty involved. Making a good model allows you to explore different ways an infrastructure system works and develops. So a good model can help in the design or redesign of an infrastructure system. It can also help politicians and policymakers identify a problem and start a decision-making process. And developing a model can be a tool or outcome of research. These are the reasons why we think it’s important to spend a whole module  on modelling.


Since you are now familiar with the basics of complex systems, surely you can imagine that a complex systems perspective has an influence on how you exactly model an infrastructure. A model of a complex system needs to be able to handle a really large number of variables, at least. But what are those variables exactly? And how do those variables interact with each other? And how can technology help us make dynamic models, and really make the models come alive in the form of a simulation of reality? Researchers have answered those questions differently over the past decades. Indeed, a complex systems perspective has triggered scientific research into modelling itself. So far this research has mainly concerned the basic principles of a model and the technology and tools that can support those basic principles. We are actually still only beginning to see the potential of different modelling techniques and their resulting models and simulations.

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