Why complex systems are prone to failure

Complex systems such as healthcare, transportation, and power generation can be very disruptive.

Richard Cook , a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, summarizes why complex systems are prone to failure.

How Complex Systems Fail

In general, large-scale failures in complex systems are caused by the accumulation of multiple small defects. However, Cook says it is impossible to completely eliminate these glitches.

When designing a system, it is necessary to design a system that meets the required requirements within a limited time. As a result, major defects that cause noticeable failures can be eliminated at the design stage, but minor defects that do not cause noticeable failures remain in the system. It takes a long time and a lot of money to get rid of these small glitches.

In addition, complex systems are designed with redundancy so that they can operate even if parts of the system are not fully functional. Therefore, it is very difficult to find a small defect because it seems to be functioning normally even if there is a small failure.

In addition, large failures caused by 'small defects' tend to cause problems even after the failure occurs. For example, engineers try to find the 'root cause' even though a large failure is caused by multiple minor glitches. In addition to that, the idea that 'this obstacle should have been predicted in advance' due to

hindsight bias is also hindering the correction of defects.

'By increasing the chances that system designers will actually come into contact with defects, we can properly fix and reduce defects in complex systems,' Cook said.

in Software,   Hardware, Posted by log1o_hf