University of Oulu

Mämmelä, A., Riekki, J. (2022). Systems View in Engineering Research. In: Rezaei, N. (ed.) Transdisciplinarity. Integrated Science, vol 5. Springer, Cham.

Systems view in engineering research

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Author: Mämmelä, Aarne1; Riekki, Jukka2
Organizations: 1VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, PO Box 1100, 90571, Oulu, Finland
2University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: embargoed
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2024-11-14


During the last 50 years, the world population has increased by over 110%, when sustainable development would have permitted only a 25% increase. This is clear evidence that global problems are complex, and we need a holistic system view to solve them. We present a tutorial survey on system view in engineering research to facilitate using these ideas in other disciplines, specifically in the topical efforts to build systems that tackle sustainable development challenges. A system is a set of parts and their relationships. The core idea is to build smart systems that optimize resource usage equitably. We present the incommensurable basic resources used by a system and methods to measure its efficiency. We also present the general principles used in smart systems to achieve efficient operation, including control, feedback, optimization and decision making, hierarchy, and degree of centralization. We identify the tragedy of the commons as the main obstacle for sustainable development as it causes overuse of common and free resources. We discuss some open system-level problems and present ideas on applying systems thinking to solve complex problems. Our major conclusion is the need to use subsidiarity combining weak centralized, hierarchical control and relative autonomy to solve the tragedy of the commons.

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Series: Integrated science
ISSN: 2662-9461
ISSN-E: 2662-947X
ISSN-L: 2662-9461
ISBN: 978-3-030-94651-7
ISBN Print: 978-3-030-94650-0
Issue: 5
Pages: 105 - 130
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-94651-7_6
Host publication: Transdisciplinarity
Host publication editor: Rezaei, Nima
Type of Publication: A3 Book chapter
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Funding: Jukka Riekki was financially supported by the Academy of Finland 6G Flagship grant 318927.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 318927
Detailed Information: 318927 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.