Earl, Chris; Johnson, Jeffrey and Eckert, Claudia (2005). Complexity. In: Clarkson, John and Eckert, Claudia eds. Design Process Improvement: A Review Of Current Practice. London, U.K.: Springer Science + Business Media, pp. 174–197.



Complexity is a widely used term; it has many formal and informal meanings. The aim of the paper is to examine the relation between complexity and design. Several formal models of complexity can be applied to designs and design processes. This argument runs in two ways.

First, designing provides insights into how to respond to complex systems - how to manage, plan and control them. Second, the overwhelming complexity of many design projects leads us to examine how better understanding of complexity theory can lead to improved designs and processes. This second direction is the focus of this paper. We start with observations on where complexity arises in design, followed by an overview of the scientific background to complexity to introduce the wider context in which the concepts and methods of complexity theory have arisen.

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