FAA Research Project on System Complexity Effects on Aircraft Safety: Literature Search to Define Complexity for Avionics Systems
November 2016 • White Paper
Michael D. Konrad, Sarah Sheard
This special report describes the results of a literature review sampling what is known about complexity for application in the context of safety and assurance.
Software Engineering Institute
This special report describes the results from the first task of a two-year project for the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate the impact of system and software complexity on aircraft safety and certification. The first task was a literature review sampling what is known about complexity. The term complexity is often used but not often defined, especially in the context of safety and assurance; our review had to intuit what different sources intended as the meaning by how they used the term in their writings. Essentially, sources described a number of different causes and impacts of complexity. The causes and impacts as described in the literature are presented here in a hierarchy of categories. To use the word “complexity” precisely, the causes and the impacts should be specified. Some sources also discussed measurement and mitigation of complexity; both measurement and mitigation can apply to both causes and effects.