A general framework for measuring system complexity

In this work, we are motivated by the observation that previous considerations of appropriate complexity measures have not directly addressed the fundamental issue that the complexity of any particular matter or thing has a significant subjective component in which the degree of complexity depends on available frames of reference. Any attempt to remove subjectivity from a suitable measure therefore fails to address a very significant aspect of complexity. Conversely, there has been justifiable apprehension toward purely subjective complexity measures, simply because they are not verifiable if the frame of reference being applied is in itself both complex and subjective. We address this issue by introducing the concept of subjective simplicity—although a justifiable and verifiable value of subjective complexity may be difficult to assign directly, it is possible to identify in a given context what is “simple” and, from that reference, determine subjective complexity as distance from simple. We then propose a generalized complexity measure that is applicable to any domain, and provide some examples of how the framework can be applied to engineered systems.

Source: onlinelibrary.wiley.com

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