Thesis Introduction in HTML

I have been converting my thesis into HTML. I’ll be uploading the chapters one-by-one over the next few months. Chapter One is now online. This is the introduction:

Think of an ant – tiny and rather insignificant on its own. Now think of an ant colony and all of a sudden you have ant path planning, brood sorting and nest climate controls. All this is decentralised; emergent. Now look at man-made systems and organisations; interconnected networks, global connectivity, systems-of-systems thinking. These ideas and implementations are emerging out of typically hierarchical, unresponsive, difficult to maintain legacy approaches grounded in an increasingly fast moving, mass customised and dynamic environment. Given this, the understanding and subsequent exploitation of complex and emergent organisations will have an important role to play in man-made organisations; logistics, manufacturing, co-operation and connectivity. Whilst physicists and to some extent computer scientists have embraced the ideas of emergence and complexity to varying degrees, it will be the engineers and managers that will have to understand and implement them in real life situations. Very little has been undertaken to explore and explain the importance, implications and even benefits of emergent and complex systems in industry. Hence, within the context of the aerospace industry, this thesis is written with the aim of explaining the situation with the engineer and manager thoroughly in mind.


Self-Organization, Emergence and Multi-Agent Systems

Abstract. We begin by describing the importance of emergence in industry and the need, in certain situations, to move away from a reduction mind-set to a more holist approach. We define the term emergence in context of self-organizing systems, autopoiesis and chaotic systems. We then examine a field that is commonly used to explore emergence and selforganization, namely agent and multi-agent systems. After an overview of this field, we highlight the most appropriate aspects of agent research used in aiding the understanding of emergence. We conclude with an example of our recent research where we measure agent emergent performance and flexibility and relate it to the make-up of the agent organization.

Citation. Gabbai, J. M. E., Yin, H., Wright, W. A., and Allinson, N. M., “Self-Organization, Emergence and Multi-Agent Systems,” in IEEE International Conference on Neural Networks and Brain, Wang, S., et al., Eds. Berlin: Springer Verlag Heidelberg, Beijing, China: IEEE, 2005, pp. TBC.

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Complexity and the Aerospace Industry: Understanding Emergence by Relating Structure to Performance using Multi-Agent Systems

Engineering Doctorate Thesis Abstract. The aerospace industry is at the forefront of technological innovation, both at product level and manufacturing and support levels. Not only are new manufacturing systems computer controlled, they are controlled by networked computers, which, increasingly, are globally connected by public or private internets. Such advances in communication and information systems technology are causing global changes to market places. Drawing upon experience and research in this sector, the increasing challenges faced by large scale complex organisations, exemplified by this sector, are highlighted. I discuss why traditional methodologies are no longer globally appropriate as issues of emergence and complexity come to the fore.

Complex distributed systems often can exhibit behaviour that is not easily predictable when looking at the individual components of the system. The exhibited behaviours are sometimes beneficial and sometimes not. Such behaviour is observable in many natural systems from the swirling patterns of bird flocks to the purposeful social activities of insect colonies. Man-made systems, products and the organisations for their creation and maintenance, can also display such emergent behaviour – often unintended and detrimental. Conversely, benefits can be had when simple systems interact to produce desired complex behaviours where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is particularly evident in biological systems. A study of flocking is presented where novel predator avoidance is developed and explained.

Examining and contrasting the trends and requirements of the aerospace industry in relation to research trends in emergence and multi-agent systems leads to the observation that more research into organisational structure and its quantifiable relationship with organisational behaviour is required. A full set of generic organisational structural metrics are therefore developed, along with charting and agent interaction recording methodologies.

In order to test these metrics a multi-agent system simulation approximating a simple unmanned air vehicle group task is developed. Organisational behaviour such as performance, cost and robustness to failure are recorded alongside organisational structural metrics. These metrics are used to successfully explain key organisational traits in a quantitative manner.

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The Science Behind Santa

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However since Santa does not visit children of the Muslim, Hindu or Jewish religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million.

Santa has about 108 million homes to visit and 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels from east to west. This works out at 967.7 visits per second.This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him and get on to the next house. [continue reading…]


Visualisation of Multi Agent System Organisations using a Self-Organising Map of Pareto Solutions

Abstract. The structure and performance of organisations – natural or man-made – are intricately linked, and these multifaceted interactions are increas-ingly being investigated using Multi Agent System concepts. This paper shows how a selection of generic structural metrics for organisations can be explored using a combination of Pareto Frontier exemplars, from extensive simulations of simple goal-orientated Multi Agent Systems, and exposé of organisational types through Self-Organising Map clusters can provide insights into desirable structures for such objectives as robustness and efficiency.

Citation. Gabbai, J. M. E., Wright, W. A., and Allinson, N. M., “Visualisation of Multi- Agent System Organisations using a Self-Organising Map of Pareto Solutions,” in Intelligent Data Engineering and Automated Learning (IDEAL 04), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Yang, Z. R., et al., Eds. Exeter, UK: Springer, 2004, pp. 841-847.

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Trends, Implications and Overview of Complex Organizations with a Focus on the Aerospace Industry

Abstract. The Aerospace Industry is at the forefront of technological innovation, both at product level and manufac-turing and support levels. We draw upon our experience in this sector to illustrate the increasing challenges that large scale complex organizations, exemplified by this sector, are facing. We examine why traditional methodologies are no longer globally appropriate and discuss how work on multi agent systems and emergence is promising the means to overcome the limitations of traditional approaches. Furthermore, we draw upon our research on relating organizational structure to performance to illustrate how such potential solutions can be applied to organizational complexity. Finally, we conclude by looking at the future of this industry and the technological solutions that may play a part in its evolution.

Citation. Gabbai, J. M. E., Wright, W. A., and Allinson, N. M., “Trends, Implications and Overview of Complex Organizations with a Focus on the Aerospace Industry (invited paper),” in IEEE International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN 04), Schoop, R., et al., Eds. Berlin, Germany: IEEE, 2004, pp. 385-390.

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Measuring and Visualizing Organizations by Relating Structure to Performance

Abstract. Within a Multi Agent System (MAS) environment, principled metrics are developed that encapsulate the structure and performance of organizations. From extensive simulation work, we can explore performance/cost/structure trade-offs; and, by incorporating data visualization techniques, we can observe the emergence of organization classes and begin to identify optimum organizational structures to meet specified constraints and tasks. We illustrate our approach through specific examples and suggest future directions.

Citation. Gabbai, J. M. E., Wright, W. A., and Allinson, N. M., “Measuring and Visualizing Organizations by Relating Structure to Performance,” in IEEE International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN 03), Unland, R., et al., Eds. Banff, Alberta, Canada: IEEE, 2003, pp. 154-161.

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Engineering Doctorates

Citation. Gabbai, J. M. E., “Engineering Doctorates,” in The Aerospace Professional, May 2003, pp. 18.

After graduating you either go into industry or stay at university as a postgraduate, right? I thought that was the case when I completed my Aerospace Engineering degree at the University of Manchester. But as someone who enjoyed both the academic and industrial aspects of the degree, I looked for another route, and was ultimately drawn towards the Engineering Doctorate (EngD) with its strong industrial bias. [continue reading…]

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Relating Organisational Structure to Performance: An Initial Focus on Centralisation

Abstract. This paper will focus on relating organisational structure with organisational performance. We first outline the motivation behind this research, from both industrial and academic perspectives. After defining the problem and the research aim, an outline of organisational performance metrics is provided, followed by a detailed look at the centralisation metric. Finally, using our testbed simulation, the metric is applied and compared against the simulation’s performance output, namely speed and robustness. We show that while the centralisation metric is a sufficient measure of performance, the implementation of further metrics should produce further promising results.

Citation. Gabbai, J. M. E., Wright, W. A., and Allinson, N. M., “Relating Organisational Structure to Performance: An Initial Look at Centralisation,” presented at NET.Object Day, Erfurt, Germany, 2002

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Lead Time Reduction in BAE SYSTEMS’ Defence Market


This report concentrates on the way BAE SYSTEMS (formally British Aerospace after its recent acquisition of GEC Marconi) deals with the inherently long lead times that occur between contract with customer to the actual commercial production and provision of the product/solution.

This report will describe the overall operational situation faced by BAE SYSTEMS, and then concentrate on the more challenging military market. A brief description of a typical classic aircraft design cycle will be provided, followed by a discussion as to why this is unsuitable for most current and future projects due to the unique situation that defence systems companies face. Finally, an appraisal on current practices and a look into the future concludes the report. [continue reading…]


Organisational Behaviour Modification


This report begins with a background to behaviour modification, including details on the psychological mechanisms and the reasons behind the theory. These ideas are then taken further and applied within an organisational setting using published examples, followed by a general appraisal on the work done. [continue reading…]


Current Human Resource Management Practices in Britain


In order qualify and appraise current human resource management practices in Britain one must initially consider the very definition of this popularised term and then compare current practices with the definition.

However, it is suggested that the very fundamental and benchmark definition of human resource management varies highly between and within academic and organisational camps. It is this ambiguity that leads to a higher-level argument as to whether a clear shift in management style has actually occurred, or whether human resource management, as practiced in industry, is simply an old idea with a new image. [continue reading…]

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Technological Evolution, Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Technological Evolution and Supply Chain Management

Around 1990, a combination of factors began to change the role of logistics in major corporations. Quality initiatives and re-engineering were forcing companies to evaluate entire processes, rather than individual components. Supply-chain management, the integrated control over goods, information, and money, became the key facilitator in this new approach.

In essence, supply-chain management represented an attempt to develop a unified process by which goods and services would be produced for customer sale and consumption. Furthermore, logistics was now being considered as more than simply an opportunity to minimise cost – it was developing into a core component of corporate profitability.

More recently, the Internet has become part of people’s daily lives, and during that time a steady progression of Internet innovations has occurred. Internet browsers and the development of the World Wide Web made the Internet accessible. Search engines were developed in response to the proliferation of Web sites. Commercialisation of the Internet, initially Business-to-Consumer, spawned online shopping. Search engines morphed into portals, adding content, shopping, and other items. Finally, e-commerce came into full fruition with the online auction leading the way, illustrating what potential the technology posed for organisations with regards to purchasing. It follows that suppliers quickly warmed up to the Internet, with the aim of fulfilling supplier expectations. [continue reading…]


The Art of Flight Simulation


Simulation is an established technique used in the man-machine systems area for training, evaluation of performance and research. The principal task of flight simulation is the creation of a dynamic representation of an aircraft’s behaviour while allowing one or more human operators to interact with the simulation.

Personal experience within the simulation industry gave a small insight into what is a largely closed and highly specialised industry where several technical disciplines are combined to form a highly accurate representation of flight.

Such disciplines include computer graphics, hardware and software engineering, man-machine systems and mathematical systems modelling. One can thus conclude that the true art of simulation is the successful integration of very specific areas to form an accurate representation of an aircraft, and it is hoped that the broad technical spectrum that simulation encapsulates is reflected in this text. [continue reading…]


Management Quality versus Quality Management

“For almost two decades, organisations have strategically given a high priority to continuous improvement of the quality of their products and services. Great emphasis has been placed on the management of quality. Has this been done to the detriment to the quality of management?”


In order qualify and appraise whether the various guises of quality management have had a detrimental impact on general management quality, one must initially consider the circumstances around the necessity and evolution of quality management. With a defined historical and theoretical background, a more industrial look at quality management is presented, focusing on its implementation, practice and impact in the real world. [continue reading…]

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Effective Team Building

An Introduction to Teamwork

Teams are the primary vehicles through which work is done, problems solved and customers served. It is no exaggeration to say that teamwork is considered to be the heart and sole of an organisation or project.

When people work in teams, there are two quite separate issues involved. The first is the task and the problem involved in getting the job done and is frequently the only issue that is considered. The second is the process or dynamic of the teamwork itself.

The dynamics of a team is a very important aspect and is being explored more and more in a time where the ability to work in a team is seen as the primary attribute of an employee. Successful implementation of team dynamics can turn a loose and ineffective team into a tight unit that is many times the sum of the worth of its individuals. It is this synergy that makes teamwork attractive in corporate organisation despite the possible problems and time spent in team formation. [continue reading…]