Coherence and Complex Dynamic Systems

Saturday, September 13th 2014

Over this coming fall of 2014 I am on a quest to define a research focus area. At this early stage I’ve narrowed it down to these general topics:

I am aiming to align my research focus with work goals. The key goal of the last few years of creating a coordinated and collaborative approach to interdisciplinary remote sensing research and the IT systems and services required to make the research products created available for integration by others.

As part of my Complex Dynamic Systems course I have to find and read articles relevant to my research. As I’m still figuring out what my research goals are I’ve been just reading random articles based on words.

During quiet brain moment while traveling I focused on the word coherence and I was struck by the following term while reading Communication and Data Sharing for Dynamic Distributed Systems by Nancy Lynch and Alex Shvartsman.

“The properties we study include ordering and reliability guarantees for communication and coherence guarantees for data sharing.”

This is a computer communication and data sharing paper and they are talking about bits and bytes and the computer systems involved. I on the other hand while reading it was thinking of human systems instead of computer systems the phrase “communication and coherence guarantees” really leap out.

A google search later lead me to the follow extract from the book Coherence in Spontaneous Text by Morton Ann Gernsbacher, T. Givón.

words words

I look at the study on bringing coherence to a human discussion as similar to taking apart how to develop a successful communication protocol for complex and dynamic computer systems.

None of this is mind blowing for experts in these fields but I’m personally tickled the challenges of the computer science realm also nicely slide over into the fruity-fluffy-squishy human science realms. This gives me warm fuzzy that I’ll be able to align both the terms and concepts from the human side to the remote sensing/data and computer/cyber side I’m much more comfortable with.


Random Incomplete Thoughts Scratch Space

Space for random thoughts from reading on this topic: these are just brain farts captured - nothing serious

In complex inter-diciplinary systems this process would have to be done at a variety of levels multiple and revisited times to continue narrowing down to actionable activities.

To avoid being stalled out or left spinning inside a communication framework you need to be able to have the system spin out actionable activities as part of the iterative process. You want the energy people are putting into the system to both increase group understanding of the current situation and to provide actionable steps to be taken.

All of the above is way too fluffy for me to leave there. Here is a tangible topic I am familiar with:

How do you create a coordinated system to support the maintenance, updating, and distribution of statewide (Alaska) digital basemap?  

It is very easy, if you have funding, to pick a platform and a sensor or three and just keep on plugging through to make a digital basemap of Alaska that meets some arbitrary specifications and goals.

However there are so many different stakeholders of an Alaska digital basemap with conflicting and evolving interests that need to be balanced and brought into the discussion it becomes a communication and decision making problem instead of remote sensing problem like you might initially think.

To loop back around to the topic at hand: How do you make sure that the communication platform hosting that discussion for state, federal, international, local, private, public, and academic stakeholders is achieving communication coherence?