Complexity in Modeling and Analytic Use of Computers

Orchard-Hays, W. (1976). Complexity in Modeling and Analytic Use of Computers. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-76-009

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Several computerized systems of enormous power are available to IIASA, often at almost no cost. Indeed, two or three, at least, are here now waiting to be used. Yet no one is using them. Nor is this situation unique to IIASA. This writer has spent a quarter of a century in developing increasingly powerful and flexible systems, and has been assisted by numbers of highly competent people at different times. Similar efforts by numerous other individuals and groups could be cited. Increasingly, in the last few years, these systems have tended to become monuments to complexity and futility. Clearly something is wrong and this is a matter of deep concern. Certainly we can (or may have to) stop building systems. But such capability is sorely needed in analyzing the enormous problems facing the world. Only three possible explanations for this situation present themselves: (a) There are almost no analysts who are capable of formulating models of sufficient power to utilize big systems. (b) Computer technology has become so complicated that most analysts cannot -- or refuse to devote the effort needed to -- really understand it. Hence they are unaware of what is available and what can be done. (c) The systems are poorly designed with respect to the kind of work analysts must undertake.

We must believe that (a) is false or else we may as well all pack up. On the other hand, it is increasingly clear that there is some truth in both (b) and (c). The following discussion is aimed at clarifying both sides.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: System and Decision Sciences - Core (SDS)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:43
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:08

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