Complexity of Socio-Technical Systems: concept for a uniform metric | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2589-6725
  • E-ISSN: 2589-6733



For five decades complex socio-technical systems have been studied in an attempt to understand and prevent the occurrence of accidents. In this paper, the authors define a concept for a System Complexity metric, comprising the total of all direct interactions between the system elements and the tools the controller has to control the system. Subsequently, the human performance of the operator is taken into account to arrive at the Perceived System Complexity. Finally a hypothesis for a relation between the dynamic actually perceived system complexity, and the occurrence of incidents is postulated, which are still to be proven in practice.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Dekker, Sidney. (2011). Drift into Failure – From Hunting Broken Systems to Understanding Complex Systems. (1st ed.). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Diaconu, A.Stanciu, V.Pleter, O. (2014) Air traffic complexity metric for en-route nd terminal areas. U.P.B. Sci. Bull. Series D, 76(1), 13–24.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Djokic, J.Fricke, H.Schultz, M.Thiel, C. (2009). Air traffic complexity as a safety performance indicator. Science & Military2, 20–25.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Eurocontrol Experimental Centre. (2004). Cognitive Complexity in Air Traffic Control - a literature review. EEC Note No. 04/04; project COCA Complexity and Capacity.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Eurocontrol ACE Working Group on Complexity (2006). Complexity Metrics for ANSP Benchmarking Analysis. Eurocontrol.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. FAA. (2000). System Safety Handbook. Washington D.C., USA: Federal Aviation Administration.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Hollnagel, E. (2017). Contextual Control Model (COCOM). Retrieved 12 December 2017 from
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Krstic Simic, T.Tosic, V. (2010). Airfield Traffic Complexity. Proceedings of the 14th ATRS World Conference (Paper No. 144.). Porto, Portugal.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Onderzoeksraad voor de Veiligheid (2017). Veiligheid Vliegverkeer Schiphol. Retrieved 7 December 2017 from
  10. Perrow, Charles. (1984). Normal Accidents - Living with High-Risk Technologies (1st ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Schöttl, F.Lindemann, U. (2015). Quantifying the complexity of socio-technical systems – A Generic, Interdisciplinary Approach. Proceeding of the 2015 Conference on Systems Engineering Research. Procedia Computer Science44.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Sharpinskykh, O.A. (2017), private communication.
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Complexity; Complexity Metric; Socio-Technical System
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error