Air Force

Quantifying complexity

Design support tool for quantitative measures of complexity, wasted effort, and controllability of a distributed system

Software & Information Technology

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Corporations, government agencies, and other organizations often employ large groups of people to accomplish a mission. Frequently, these employees are geographically separated but must work together to achieve common goals. Establishment and commitment to processes are necessary to move towards task completion. There is a lot of wasted effort expended within processes. Also, extraneous information may be injected into processes which distract from accomplishing the mission.

To reduce wasted effort and misinformation, managers, and other decision-makers seek to modify the organizational structure or the steps within a process. Nodes may be added to or deleted from a system to improve mission effectiveness. When changes to the system are made, it is desirable to measure the before and after effectiveness of the system.

The Air Force has developed and patented a system complexity meter which provides quantitative measurements by incorporating concepts from information theory. The complexity meter is roughly based on a ratio composed of wasted effort divided by the inability to perform a control action. The complexity meter provides a method of evaluating if distributed systems or other complex networks have the proper flow of information from an input vector to an output vector. The use of such a complexity meter can compare one system to another to determine the efficacy of the flow of information or other important throughput variables. The distributed system to be examined may be composed of nodes that may change with time.

This US patent 8,244,503 is related to US patent 8,768,101, US patent 8,027,537, and US patent 8,326,088.

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