Research: “Quality indicators for collective systems resilience”
Emergence: Complexity & Organization, ISSN: 1521-3250, Vol. 16, No. 3, September 2014, pp. 65-104.
Vincenzo De Florio – PATS research group, University of Antwerp & iMinds Research Institute, Middelheimlaan 1, 2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
Resilience is widely recognized as an important design goal though it is one that seems to escape a general and consensual understanding. Often mixed up with other system attributes; traditionally used with different meanings in as many different disciplines; sought or applied through diverse approaches in various application domains, resilience in fact is a multi-attribute property that implies a number of constitutive abilities. To further complicate the matter, resilience is not an absolute property but rather it is the result of the match between a system, its current condition, and the environment it is set to operate in. In this paper we discuss this problem and provide a definition of resilience as a property measurable as a system-environment fit. This brings to the foreground the dynamic nature of resilience as well as its hard dependence on the context. A major problem becomes then that, being a dynamic figure, resilience cannot be assessed in absolute terms. As a way to partially overcome this obstacle, in this paper we provide a number of indicators of the quality of resilience. Our focus here is that of collective systems, namely those systems resulting from the union of multiple individual parts, sub-systems, or organs. Through several examples of such systems we observe how our indicators provide insight, at least in the cases at hand, on design flaws potentially affecting the efficiency of the resilience strategies. A number of conjectures are finally put forward to associate our indicators with factors affecting the quality of resilience (Vincenzo De Florio).