How to Deal with the Complexity of Future Cyber-Physical Systems?
2. Perspectives on Complexity
2.1. Sources of Complexity
2.2. Effects of Complexity
2.3. Evolution of Complexity
3. Complexity in CPS
3.1. Facets of Complexity
- The environment in which a CPS acts and undertakes tasks corresponding to its functional and extra-functional requirements. Environments and tasks are intimately related to the capabilities of CPS .
- The cyber components, where software-defined behaviors and sophisticated electronics platforms lead to very large state-spaces with implications for understanding, maintaining and predicting system behaviors. Unintended effects may arise from behaviors and assumptions referring to other software components, resource sharing and the CPS environment. Interactions between software and the electronics platforms and reuse of legacy components (sometimes black-box or poorly documented/understood), further contribute to complexity. Interactions between components in computer systems include both local and global interactions and exhibit much faster characteristic timescales compared to physical interactions .
- The physical components, where a key source of complexity arises from side effects which can be the same order of magnitude as the intended behavior (e.g., friction-induced thermal effects between surfaces in contact) . Component interactions and side effects are further multifold (e.g., motion, heat, electromagnetism) and are characterized by strong local effects.
- Interactions between the cyber and physical components. Combining cyber and physical components enables feedback and adaptive systems, providing cost-efficient capabilities otherwise impossible but also characterized by more complex behaviors (e.g., hybrid real-time systems) including a multitude of possible faults and failure modes. As a particular characteristic, a CPS will be characterized by a multiplicity of interfaces and interrelations that encompass both explicit and implicit dependencies among CPS components, and between the CPS and its environment . Correspondingly, a change in one part of a system may affect many others, producing unexpected or undesired side effects from the close coupling and tight integration. The integration of cyber and physical components moreover requires reconciling different worldviews and traditions (see e.g., ). Lacking timing (real-time) abstractions for software systems poses a key limitation for predictability .
3.2. Evolution of Future CPS
- Technological areas such as physical, embedded, networked and information (e.g., cloud and edge computing) systems,
- Standalone systems, for example integrating vehicles and infrastructure to form intelligent transportation systems, and
- Life-cycle stages, in particular making data available throughout the life-cycle and enabling software upgrades. These concepts are closely related to so-called DevOps (Development- Operations integration) associated with continuous software development, integration, and deployment with feedback from operational systems.
3.3. Limitations of Existing Methodologies
- Systems and components: architecture, design and integration,
- Connectivity and interoperability,
- Safety, security and reliability,
- Computing and storage,
- Electronics process technology, equipment, materials and manufacturing.
- Composability across components, disciplines and aspects. When composing CPS components, multiple technologies needs to be integrated (electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, software, etc.) and multiple aspects needs to be reconciled — referring to for example properties such as cost, safety and availability. When reasoning about such compositions, multiple theories will apply, each focusing on one or more aspects of integration (e.g., logic-interface automata, composing transfer functions, scheduling, overall reliability, etc.). Real and successful composition must consider all these aspects, including characteristic side effects and dependencies of CPS. For this there is no existing comprehensive theory or methodology. Current best practices can manage systems of today’s complexity, albeit using heuristics and with questionable cost-efficiency. Beyond composition at design or production time, CPS will be increasingly adaptive and able to reconfigure during run-time. There are thus needs to improve interoperability and reason about composability over multiple aspects also at run-time. In a similar vein, with the use of DevOps and learning systems with CPS, the software behaviors of parts of the CPS will change during operation, requiring the ability to monitor and ensure proper operations, see e.g., [1,8].
- Human-CPS integration. Regardless of the system type and level of automation, humans acting as developers, operators, users, and maintainers will increasingly have to deal with and interact with CPS. Increasing levels of automation poses challenges for human-machine interaction, e.g., for cases where humans (e.g., pilots in an aircraft) may still be responsible to act in emergency situations. We are currently transitioning to increasing levels of automation and smarter systems and the lessons learned in the automation history remain highly relevant to improve support for humans interacting with highly capable CPS . As an example of a related challenge in automated driving, leading companies have abandoned the so-called “level 3” of automated driving, moving directly to “level 4” where the automation system is also responsible for fall-back maneuvers, see e.g., . A key notion for human CPS is that of intent, i.e., the understanding of what drives the action or inaction of an agent. There is also a need to identify deviations from normal behaviour of such (human) agents, in particular behaviour that leads to decisions/actions of significance for the functioning of CPS  (e.g., Chapter 5.3.3).
- AI within CPS. While AI and machine learning technologies enable entirely new types of applications, the use of in particular machine learning in terms of neural networks raises concerns about how to deal with transparency (black-box behavior), robustness and predictability (e.g., when data is outside of a training set), and how to cost-efficiently verify, validate and assure such systems, see for example [55,56].
- Trustworthiness. Trust involves properties such as privacy, cybersecurity, safety and availability, which affect each other, requiring new holistic methodologies. Security risks already exist for current CPS and will increase as CPS become even more widely adopted, connected and with an increasing use of open source software. Absolute safety and security will not be possible so on-line measures are necessary to deal with security breaches and safety related anomalies. Moreover, the increasing deployment and use of CPS increases the importance of their availability, implying traditional fail-safe solutions are not an option. Future systems must be fault-tolerant while balancing the complexity increase due to the introduction of redundancy, adaptability and fall-back measures. Finally, issues related to liability, ethics and assurance are recognized as essential. Who if any will/should take responsibility when a complex CPS fails, what are the ethical considerations of decisions made by highly automated systems, and what is required by an assurance case for a future complex CPS? 
- CPSoS. Future CPS are likely to form part of CPSoS. Such systems, may also because of their novelty and scale, relate to multiple domains, and require consideration a larger set of stakeholders, jurisdictions, regulations and standards .
4. Addressing Limitations to Complexity
- Complexity awareness by people and organizations, as well as improving training, leveraging existing knowledge and best practices,
- Research towards establishing CPS foundations that addresses the identified limitations of current CPS methodologies,
- Multi-disciplinary collaboration for the above mentioned educational and research efforts, and also in terms of exchange of best practices across industrial domains and between academia and industry.
5. Discussion and Conclusions
Conflicts of Interest
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Törngren, M.; Grogan, P.T. How to Deal with the Complexity of Future Cyber-Physical Systems? Designs 2018, 2, 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/designs2040040
Törngren M, Grogan PT. How to Deal with the Complexity of Future Cyber-Physical Systems? Designs. 2018; 2(4):40. https://doi.org/10.3390/designs2040040Chicago/Turabian Style
Törngren, Martin, and Paul T. Grogan. 2018. "How to Deal with the Complexity of Future Cyber-Physical Systems?" Designs 2, no. 4: 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/designs2040040