Cyberspace: the ultimate complex adaptive system

  • Dr Paul W Phister
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Networks and information systems that are being constructed today are complicated. Integrating these networks together into a global Internet yields an extremely complicated environment. However, this cyber environment is beginning to exhibit traits of a complex adaptive system (CAS). It is the contention of the author that the cyber domain can be thought of as the ultimate complex adaptive system (e.g., the global Internet). Complex adaptive systems are those systems which have the additional important property of being adaptive—i.e., the structure and behavior of the system changes over time in a way which tends to increase its success. Within this complex cyber domain, two key aspects are discussed to illustrate that the cyber domain exhibits complex behaviors: 1) Cyber awareness (What? Where? When?), and 2) cyber understanding (Why? Who?). The cyber environment represents the interaction of complex events and how they relate to the mission being performed in the cyber domain namely: cyber stealth (operating as undetectable as possible); cyber terrain (traversing a series of networks and nodes); and, cyber path (traversing particular links and routers). Two future areas of research—knowledge awareness and understanding, and network science—are discussed as well as applicable technologies.

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  • Dr Paul W Phister

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