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Resilience in Complex Adaptive Systems by Richard Cook

Posted on January 17, 2017
Tags: software, engineering, security

I highly recommend Richard Cook’s presentation on how to model system risk. It was wonderfully presented and put forward a very intuitive model of safety, reliability, and cost involved in running a big complex system. He drew heavily upon the work of Jens Rasmussen, who thought extensively about risk management for systems with lots of moving parts and people:

Rasmussen Safety Model Diagram

Rasmussen Safety Model Diagram

In the presented model, there are three main forces at play:

The operating point gets pushed around by all three forces in a Brownian-like motion. By default, it tends to get swept to the left because of the short-lived effects of most safety precautions against the constant thumping forces of management and operators.

While the presentation did a brilliant job of illustrating the problem at hand, there were no posited solutions, so I dug further into Cook’s research. I will compile my findings in a future post.