Complexity Economics Engineering

The Principle of Fragility

The following equation, which we call the Principle of Fragility, has been coined by Ontonix in early 2005 and indicates why complexity management is a form of risk management:

Complexity X Uncertainty = Fragility 

In order to understand the Principle of Fragility let us borrow Fourier’s idea of variable separation and create a useful parallel. Let us assume, without loss of generality, that the term “Complexity” is specific to a certain system, e.g. a corporation, while  the term “Uncertainty” concentrates the degree of turbulence (entropy) in the environment in which the system operates, e.g. a market. The equation assumes the following form:

Csystem  X Uenvironment = Fragility

or, in the case of a business,

Cbusiness model X Umarket = Fragility

What the equation states is that in a market of given turbulence a more complex business model will be more fragile (exposed). In practical terms, the equation may be seen as a mathematical version of Ockham’s razor: with all things being equal a less complex compromise is preferable.

Established originally in 2005 in the USA, Ontonix is a technology company headquartered in Como, Italy. The unusual technology and solutions developed by Ontonix focus on countering what most threatens safety, advanced products, critical infrastructures, or IT network security - the rapid growth of complexity. In 2007 the company received recognition by being selected as Gartner's Cool Vendor. What makes Ontonix different from all those companies and research centers who claim to manage complexity is that we have a complexity metric. This means that we MEASURE complexity. We detect anomalies in complex defense systems without using Machine Learning for one very good reason: our clients don’t have the luxury of multiple examples of failures necessary to teach software to recognize them. We identify anomalies without having seen them before. Sometimes, you must get it right the first and only time!

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