ACCS in the media

Building a system out of its requirements

Robert Glass writes the Practical Programmer column for the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery (CACM), one of the most widely read and respected journals in the area of information technology. Glass’s column in the November 2004 issue of CACM featured the work of ACCS Chief Investigator Geoff Dromey. Under the title “Is this a revolutionary idea, or not?” he outlined Dromey’s Behavior Tree method for software design.

Glass describes the innovation as being that, using Dromey’s approach, a software system can be built “out of its requirements” rather than just “satisfying its requirements”. The result is that “complexity can be handled piecewise … rather than as one big global cognitively daunting task”. This in turn means defects in requirements can be discovered earlier, and that new requirements can be more easily integrated into existing designs.

In his column Glass is open minded about the significance and scalability of the approach, but thinks it might truly represent a revolutionary new approach to software design. At the ACCS we’re convinced the approach has considerable merit, and are investing significantly in further development of the method and tools to support it. In fact, we think its usefulness extends beyond design of software systems, to modelling and analysis of complex systems more generally.

Liberty bubbles

The Spring 2004 issue of Policy featured ACCS Collaborator Jason Potts and his Real Bubbles theory as the cover story. Policy "publishes articles by some of articles authored by some of today's foremost thinkers on public policy and big ideas. Due to the quality of writing and the diversity of topics, Policy is considered a 'must read' by leading politicians, businessmen and academics…Policy is the quarterly magazine of The Centre for Independent Studies, Australasia's leading independent public policy research institute or 'thinktank'" ( J

Jason's research was subsequently picked up by Alan Wood, Economics Editor of The Australian: "Equity blowouts can attract capital to new technologies". (The Weekend Australian 11.09.2004, p44)

Impressive paper in combinatorial group theory

Centre participant George Havas and a colleague have cracked an important problem in combinatorial group theory, by proving a deep property of a class of structures that are of keen interest to mathematicians: Havas, G., Vaughan-Lee, M. R., ‘4-Engel groups are locally nilpotent’, International Journal of Algebra and Computation, 15 (2005), no. 4, 649--682. An article in Mathematical Reviews, April 2006 states: ‘This impressive paper contains a splendid result and completes the solution to a longstanding open problem on Engel groups...’ MR2160572 (2006d:20064).

It's life, but not as we know it

Centre research featured prominently in an article by Beverley Head that appeared in The Age, 29 November 2005, in the Sydney Morning Herald as the Cover Story for the Next section, and as the Top Feature for Sydney Morning Herald's electronic Technology Daily that day. The article outlined research being undertaken by various centres and individuals throughout Australia and highlighted that Australian industry remains essentially unaware of the benefits and potential applications of the research. The article is at but-not-as-we-know-it/2005/11/28/1133026374254 .html

Modelling water usage for the Murray-Darling Basin

Chief Investigator John Quiggin's project developing water usage modelling for the Murray-Darling Basin generated considerable interest in 2005. John was interviewed on four occasions:

  • with the Quest newspaper about ‘Water in South- East Queensland’, 12 October 2005;
  • with ABC Radio (612 Brisbane Breakfast program) on ‘Water trading’, 24 October 2005;
  • with Radio Adelaide (Breakfast program) on ‘Energy and the economy’, 31 October 2005; and
  • with ABC Radio (Sydney) on ‘Biodiversity trading’, 3 November 2005.

Queensland’s electricity market

In a boost for the Centre’s new Electricity Networks & Energy Markets program, Channel 9 News featured Centre Researcher Ariel Liebman speaking on the Deregulation of Queensland’s retail electricity market: 6pm, 18 June.

It’s not what you know - it’s who you know...

The UQ Business School’s report on Sam MacAulay’s work ‘The role of social networks in the innovation process’, (see page 14) was picked up by ABC Local Radio, Gold Coast, 21 May, and by (see 14 May.

Clarity of language signals success

In response to a Courier Mail front-page article, Centre Chief Investigator Geoff Dromey wrote an article in response claiming that “using technology should not be at the expense of clear language. One wrong instruction in four million lines of Boeing 777 software could be disastrous...” 16 April, Courier Mail, Ed: 1, Pg 17, 644 words by Geoff Dromey


Science journalist and broadcaster Robyn Williams was the after-dinner speaker at the conference. Robyn gave a far-reaching talk covering the importance of complex systems science research and the need for interdisciplinary approaches to big scientifi c problems such as climate change. Robyn also interviewed a number of the scientists attending the conference; transcripts of some of these interviews are available on the ABC website:

  • Peter Lindsay, The Science Show, ‘The growth in air traffi c’, ABC Radio National, 7 July 2007
  • Ian Enting, The Science Show, ‘Study of climate sceptics’, ABC Radio National, 14 July 2007
  • Roger Bradbury, In Conversation, ABC Radio National, 19 July 2007
  • Peter Lindsay was also interviewed by Ingrid Just, ABC Radio Queensland on 13 July at 3:10pm.

In ‘Complex’07: Making sense out of chaos’ Beverley Head reported on the Conference for The Sydney Morning Herald (Technology - Next, 3 July), The Age (Technology - Next, 3 July) and The Brisbane Times  (Technology, 3 July). This article was subsequently picked up by a number of Internet news and blog sites.

The ARC included an article on Complex’07 in their Winter 2007 Discovery magazine (see

Making the pace in a hot new year

Centre Chief Investigator David Green’s research featured prominently in an article by Beverley Head that appeared in The Age, 31 January 2006. The article highlighted David’s campaign to demystify complex systems techniques and to apply them to a wide range of real-world problems. Some of David’s recent achievements include analysis of social networks to identify how social interaction affects social order; development of computer models to demonstrate the ecological effect of breaking up rainforests or clearing land for agriculture; and exploration of complexity and stability in food webs.
The article is at making-the-pace-in-a-hot-new year/2006/01 /30/1138469633668.html

Planning for climate change: From urban design to complex systems

John Quiggin’s public talk on ‘Complexity, climate change and the precautionary principle’ at Brisbane City Hall on 18 September was discussed on ABC Radio. John’s views were also repeated in an article in the Australian Financial Review on 23 November

Sustainable electricity think-tank established

A number of Centre personnel were involved in the Inaugural Symposium on Electrical Energy Evolution in China and Australia (, in Queensland in July. Centre Chief Investigator Zhao Yang Dong was Technical Chair, and Centre PhD student Donna Yin was responsible for China liaison. The formation of a 22-member Working Group of electricity energy experts was announced at the conclusion of the symposium.

This has since been reported widely, for example in Get Farming ( PACE.—Australia’s Process and Control Engineering website ( and Fast Thinking ( Membership of the working party consists of representatives from Australian industry and Australian and Chinese universities.  According to the Chair of the group and ACCS collaborator, CSIRO’s Geoff James, the group will work together to develop better ways to utilise and distribute energy.

Cyberinfrastructure expert spells out cooperation Between US and Australia

Centre Chief Investigator David Abramson and his Monash University Message Lab team collaborate with researchers at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). The collaboration covers both middleware and applications of grid systems, both of which have been at the centre of his ACCS research. The considerable sharing of software tools that forms the basis of much of the collaboration has resulted in “…a family of tools that helps you do ‘what if’ analysis  with computational models, so you can do really heavy computational experiments, like ‘What if the universe evolved under these parameters?’ or ‘What would happen if I chopped down all of these trees?’ or ‘What if we switched all cars over from gasoline to ethanol?"
Further details of these collaborations are reported by Tiffany Fox at ‘Cyberinfrastructure expert spells out cooperation Between US and Australia,’ 5 March 2009.

How to run a million jobs

Featured in International Science Grid This Week (iSGTW) is a discussion arising from an informal session at Supercomputing 2008 (SC08) on solutions for handling and avoiding ‘megajobs’. Centre Chief Investigator David Abramson was a presenter and panel member. 3 December 2008, iSGTW Feature,

Finding a simple solution to complex systems

"The Behavior Tree is a work-flow model researchers believe will make big projects easier to manage" David Binning, The Australian Financial Review, 9 October 2008, p7 Project Management Special Report

Taming complexity in large scale systems

"A new method developed by Professor Geoff Dromey and his team identifies defects in high-risk projects very early in the process, preventing the enormous waste of money inherent in project failure." Outcomes. Research in the Real World. Australian Research Council, 2008, 28–31.

Raytheon Australia supports pioneering systems research

Raytheon Australia Media Release, 3 September 2008

Understanding grows on Behavior Trees

Raytheon Australia Flyer, July 2008 "Raytheon Australia is providing financial support and partnering for world leading research by Griffith University to develop the Behavior Tree, a method for eliminating cost blow-outs and schedule overruns in large scale, high risk engineering projects."

Further details of the team’s Behavior Engineering work are at and

Software can help you avoid those awkward confrontations

In a Special Report on Project Management, Christopher Jay writes in The Australian Financial Review of other (i.e. other than Behavior Trees) aspects of Geoff Dromey’s work. He reports on how programs that profile personalities in a group can help avert the risk of misunderstanding and failure. (9 October 2008, p6, ‘Software can help you avoid those awkward confrontations’)

Greener flights, thanks to air traffic controllers

By Katie Lee
"The Air Traffic and Operations Management Simulator (ATOMS), developed at the Canberra campus of the University of New South Wales, Australia, will allow air traffic controllers to assess new flight procedures for safety, noise pollution and carbon emissions, according to the developer, computer scientist Sameer Alam. "  

Aviation clean up

By Katie Lee
"Air Services Australia (ASA), the government body responsible for managing air traffic, is helping the aviation industry reduce its ecological footprint with the new Air Traffic Operations and Management Simulator (ATOMS)."

Cleaner flights, smaller footprint

Fresh Science
"Our system is the first in the world to integrate air traffic modelling with data and computations on aircraft noise and emissions,” says Sameer Alam who developed the system with the assistance of his colleagues at the University of New South Wales, campus located at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra."

New simulator aiming to change aviation efficiency

ABC News Online, 3rd August 2008
"A team of Canberra-based researchers is transforming air space management in Australia."



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