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Optimal Design, Robustness, and Risk Aversion


  • M. E. J. Newman
  • Michelle Girvan
  • J. Doyne Farmer


Highly optimized tolerance is a model of optimization in engineered systems, which gives rise to power-law distributions of failure events in such systems. The archetypal example is the highly optimized forest fire model. Here we give an analytic solution for this model which explains the origin of the power laws. We also generalize the model to incorporate risk aversion, which results in truncation of the tails of the power law so that the probability of disastrously large events is dramatically lowered, giving the system more robustness.

Suggested Citation

  • M. E. J. Newman & Michelle Girvan & J. Doyne Farmer, 2002. "Optimal Design, Robustness, and Risk Aversion," Working Papers 02-02-009, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:02-02-009

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    Cited by:

    1. Hüser, Christian, 2006. "Robustness - a challenge also for the 21st century: A review of robustness phenomena in technical, biological and social systems as well as robust approaches in engineering, computer science, operatio," UFZ Discussion Papers 2/2006, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).

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    Optimization; power laws; designed systems; self-organization; robustness;

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