Complexity Explorer Santa Fe Institute


Robustness describes the ability of a system to maintain a certain behavior, trait, or characteristic regardless of changing environmental conditions. Robustness is often contrasted with optimization, especially in human-constructed systems.  This is because the quality of being robust usually requires that one or more components of a system operate at sub-optimal levels in some situations in order to maintain the ability to operate acceptably at any level under most conceivable scenarios. Conversely, a system that is highly optimized typically operates very well under certain conditions but then becomes less than operational if those conditions change.

Systems Theory