From Politics and Finance to Power Grids and Products: Addressing Complexity in the Interconnected World


MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDan Braha

Dan Braha, PhD
Visiting Professor, MIT Engineering Systems Division

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Date: February 11, 2013

About the Presentation

How can we manage the financial crisis? How do civil unrest, religion, and rumors spread, and how is that related to epidemics and earthquakes? Can human behavior and societal systems be studied in the same way as biological systems and complex man-made systems?

In this webinar and post-event recording, Dr. Dan Braha will demonstrate how the field of complexity research provides clues to these intriguing questions. He will focus on why and how complex socio-economic systems evolve and why these large scale engineering systems fail and offer guidelines that can be applied across industries and organizations around the world.

About the Speaker

Dan Braha, PhD, has contributed to a wide spectrum of research areas. In particular, he has advanced the area of complex systems by introducing novel methodologies for understanding the functionality, dynamics, robustness, and fragility of large-scale socio-engineered, economic, political, and managerial systems. These systems—like power grids, large-scale projects, financial systems, or societal systems—are so ubiquitous in our daily lives that we usually take them for granted, only noticing them when they break down. He is interested in questions such as: How do such amazing technologies, infrastructures, and organizations come to be what they are? How are these systems designed? How do distributed networks work, and why does information in social networks diffuse in a very fast and effective way? How are they made to be robust and respond rapidly to errors? To address these questions, he explores the interplay between biological, physical, and large-scale human-made systems by creating data-driven theoretical and computational models using the tools of statistical physics, sociology, operations research, and computer science.

Dr. Braha is currently a visiting professor at the MIT Engineering Systems Division (ESD). He is a co-faculty of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), where he conducts research and teaches courses in complex systems, and he is also a full professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Prior to that, he was a visiting professor at MIT, a research scientist at Boston University, and a tenured professor in Israel. Dr. Braha has published in various prestigious journals, and edited or authored seven books, including Complex Engineered Systems (with Springer). His work was covered by various national and international news media including The Economist, WIRED, Le Monde, The Huffington Post, and New Scientist. He serves as editor of the Complexity Series at Springer, the area editor of Systems for Research in Engineering Design, and as editorial board member of various other leading journals. He has served on executive committees and as chair at a number of international conferences including the International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS). Dr. Braha is regularly invited to consult with and present his work in international organizations and conferences.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.