Systems Dynamics and Complexity

The course encompasses a large range of approaches towards systems and their dynamics, with particular emphasis on problem solving. It starts from basic insights on why real problems are not simple but complex, and why systems do not always do what we expect.

Based on that, we introduce tools and methods commonly used in Systems Engineering (systems oriented management) and Project Management to analyse problems at large, to search for solutions and to optimize project scheduling. The part of Systems Dynamics focuses on models of systems with various positive and negative feedback loops, which exhibit, for example, unwanted oscillations. Using examples of Economic Dynamics, such as the adoption of new products or the competition between technologies, we also develop an understanding of the specific nonlinear dynamics in markets. Eventually, we investigate the effects of Nonlinear Dynamics on the instability of systems and their long-term predictiveness, with applications in supply chains and manufacturing systems.

In addition to the theoretical framework developed, emphasis of the course is put on quantitative tools for systems modeling and on real world examples from industries and markets. Weekly self-study tasks provide opportunities to deepen the theoretical understanding of the topics, to develop own solutions in small groups, and to learn about the software VENSIM used for systems dynamics modeling.

 

Participants of the course should have an engineering background and be interested in learning about systems dynamics at large, both from a practical and a modeling perspective.

Fall Semester 2017

 

Lecture Thursday 08-10 HG D 1.2  
Exercise Tuesday 12-13 HG D 1.2  
Exam end-of-semester examination HG E 5  
Repetition Exam

 

   

Course material is available to registered students in the Moodle platform.

Resources for this course

Course Catalogue Entry

Lecture Materials
(Access is restricted to registered students. Password will be emailed before the first lecture)

Syllabus

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1. Systems: Basic Concepts

Lecture 01 -- Overview, Problems - Basic Concepts

  • about this course: administrative issues, self-study tasks, seminars
  • problems and their solutions: finding, implementing, understanding

Self-Study Task 01: Systems thinking (discussion exercise)

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2. Systems Engineering

Lecture 02 -- Systems Engineering/Problem Solving Cycle

  • systems engineering/ systems oriented management: basic approach
  • problem solving cycle (PSC) I: situation analysis, definition of objectives
  • problem solving cycle II: search for solutions, validation and decision

Self-Study Task 02: PSC -- Airport example I (discussion exercise)

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3. Project Management

Lecture 03 -- Project Management I/Project Scheduling:

  • project phases
  • bar chart scheduling
  • critical path method: precedence network, forward and backward pass, float

Self-Study Task 03: PSC -- Airport example II (discussion exercise)

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Lecture 04 -- Project Management II

  • milestone-trend diagram
  • integrated cost and date control
  • feedback loops, modeling stocks and flows

Self-Study Task 04: PEST and SWOT analysis (discussion exercise)

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4. Systems Dynamics: Oscillatory Behavior

Lecture 05 -- System Dynamics I/Modeling

  • What is modeling? software program overview (Vensim)
  • feedback processes, causal loops
  • example: predator-prey population dynamics

Self-Study Task 05: Population Dynamics (Vensim exercise)

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Lecture 06 -- Systems Dynamics II/Inventory Modeling

  • workforce-inventory model
  • ase study: high velocity industry

Self-Study Task 06: Workforce Inventory Dynamics (Vensim exercise)

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Lecture 07 -- Systems Dynamics III/Market Growth

  • demand life cycle
  • technology adoption
  • mixed source mode

Self-Study Task 07: Adoption of Innovations (Vensim exercise)

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5. Nonlinear Dynamics

Lecture 08 -- Nonlinear Dynamics I: Bifurcations and Chaos:

  • control parameters, bifurcation
  • logistic map
  • chaos, Liapunov exponent

Self-Study Task 08: Logistic Map (Applet exercise)

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Lecture 09 -- Nonlinear Dynamics II: Applications to Economics

  • supply and demand
  • cobweb dynamics
  • market interaction, bifurcation diagrams

Self-Study Task 09: Cobweb Dynamics (Vensim exercise)

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6. Economic Dynamics

Lecture 10 -- Economic Dynamics/Production Functions:

  • Cobb-Douglas production function
  • Solow mode

Self-Study Task 10: Coupled Cobweb Dynamics (Vensim exercise)

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Lecture 11 -- Nonlinear Dynamics of Economic Cycles I:

  • business cycles
  • time-dependent production function
  • Kaldor trade mode

Self-Study Task 11: Neoclassical Growth Model (Vensim exercise)

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Lecture 12 -- Nonlinear Dynamics of Economic Cycles II

  • Samuelson’s multiplier-accelerator model
  • Hick’s model
  • Goodwin model

Self-Study Task 12: Q&A Lectures 01-12

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7. Summary

Lecture 13 -- Summary

  • finding, implementing and controlling solutions

Self-Study Task 13: Q&A Lectures 01-12

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Lecture 14 -- Written Exam (Semesterendprüfung): 21.12.2017 (2 hours)