CIRP Encyclopedia of Production Engineering

2014 Edition
| Editors: The International Academy for Production Engineering, Luc Laperrière, Gunther Reinhart

Complexity in Manufacturing

  • Waguih H. ElMaraghy
Reference work entry



The original Latin word “complexus” signifies “entwined” or “twisted together.” The Oxford Dictionary defines “complex” as something that is “made of (usually several) closely connected parts.” A system would be more complex if more parts or components exist, and with more connections in between them (ElMaraghy et al. 2012).

Several different measures defining complexity have been proposed within the scientific disciplines. Such measures of complexity are generally context dependent. Colwell (2005) defines 32 complexity types in 12 different disciplines and domains such as projects, structural, technical, computational, functional, and operational complexity. Engineered systems complexity is invariably multidimensional. A complex system usually consists of a large number of members, elements, or agents, which interact with one another and with the environment. They may generate new collective behavior, the manifestation of which can be in one or more...

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Copyright information

© CIRP 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE)University of WindsorWindsorCanada