Toward agile and resilient large-scale systems: Adaptive robust national/international infrastructures

S. Massoud Amin, Barry M. Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


How to manage or control a heterogeneous, widely dispersed, yet globally interconnected system is a serious technological problem in any case. It is even more complex and difficult to control it for optimal efficiency and maximum benefit to the ultimate consumers while still allowing all its business components to compete fairly and freely. This paper briefly describes our on-going work in our holistic approach to analysis of the national and global infrastructure development that builds on advances in the mathematics of complexity, methods of probabilistic risk assessment and techniques for fast computation and interactive simulation with the goal of increased agility and resilience for large-scale systems. As an example, a model and simulation of the "Electric Enterprise" (taken in the broadest possible sense and connected to telecom, water, oil/gas and financial networks) have been developed. The model uses autonomous, adaptive agents to represent both the possible industrial components, and the corporate entities that own these components. Objectives are: 1) To develop a high-fidelity scenario-free modelling and optimization tool to use for gaining strategic insight into the operation of the deregulated power industry; 2) to show how networks of communicating and cooperating intelligent software agents can be used to adaptively manage complex distributed systems; 3) to investigate how collections of agents (agencies) can be used to buy and sell electricity and participate in the electronic marketplace; and ultimately to create self-optimizing and self-healing capabilities for the electric power grid and the interconnected critical infrastructures. From a broader view, we have integrated these into a composite analysis technique, these advances raise an unprecedented new possibility for projecting the future implications - social, economic, environmental, human health, political, and technical - of major societal development activities and technology programs for nations individually and the world as a whole. Taken together, they promise both a real-time outlook and a future perspective on the spectrum of outcomes that might result from alternative national decision pathways. Such projection capability could reveal the development options, results, and implications for any strategy for any type of nation, whether primitive, underdeveloped, developing, or industrial. Forcing functions, critical junctures, and pinch points could be identified so that scarce development resources can be allocated to maximize benefit and minimize unintended consequences. The full realization of this next step in analysis of technology will require several years of dedicated international effort, but the need is urgent and the potential payoff great. The technical - and organizational - underpinnings for such a holistic analysis approach have been demonstrated. It remains for us to build from them a global tool for a better future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Journal of Flexible Systems Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • Agile large-scale systems
  • Electric enterprise


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