Rooke, John, Molloy, Ella-Mae, Sinclair, M., Koskela, Lauri, Kagioglou, Mike, Siriwardena, Mohan and Siemieniuch, Carys (2007) Models and metaphors: some applications of complexity theory for design, construction and property management. In: CIB World Building Congress: Construction for Development, 14-17th May 2007, Cape Town International Conference Centre.. (Unpublished)

Complexity thinking may have both modelling and metaphorical applications in the design, construction and servicing of the built environment. In production theory, queuing and variation have been central in generating improvement initiatives. The complexity of these phenomena in construction suggests that non-linear and complex mathematical techniques such as fuzzy logic, cellular automata and attractors, may be applicable to their analysis. Some issues are: the definition of phenomena in a mathematically usable way; the functionality of available software; the possibility of going beyond representational modelling. Much work in management studies, rather than employing mathematical techniques, draws metaphorically on insights into complexity. Metaphor may enlighten or confuse. Is metaphorical application of complexity ideas simply a first step towards the application of mathematical techniques, or does the mathematical insight contribute to the development of a non-mathematical mode of thought? The metaphor of a 'commentary machine' is suggested as a possible way forward.

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