Large-scale systems have been traditionally characterized by a large number of variables, nonlinearities and uncertainties. Their decomposition into smaller, more manageable subsystems, possibly organized in a hierarchical form, has been associated with intense and time-critical information exchange and with the need for efficient co-ordination mechanisms.
The last decade of the past century and the beginning of the
21st century have revealed new characteristic features of industrial and non-industrial large-scale systems. The enterprise of the present time are to operate in a highly networked environment and there is an ever more increased concern for integration of various technologies and for economic, environmental and social aspects. Consequently the design of control systems must take into account more aspects and needs additional skills and tools. At the same time, the recent advances in computer and communication technologies can provide effective tools and adequate technical infrastructures to support the design and implementation of control systems for the large-scale applications of the present time.
The IFAC Technical Committee on "Large-Scale Complex Systems has already a significant tradition. LSS
2001 Symposium held in Bucharest, Romania, was the ninth edition of a by now traditional symposium with the inaugural edition being held at Udine, Italy, in 1976. Since then, at a three-year succession, the Symposium took place in Toulouse (1980), Warsaw (1983), Zurich (1986), Berlin (1989), Beijing (1992), London (1995) and Patras, Greece (1998). In 2004 the 10th IFAC LSS was held in Osaka,
It can be appreciated now that several subfields that are traditional for LSS events remain of interest to the scientific community, such as hierarchical and decentralized control, model reduction and optimization. Traditional applications of LSS methods, such as power, gas, transportation, manufacturing, water systems are still of interest. Other traditional application domains, such as agriculture, process industry, robotics were scarcely represented. The new issues such as risk management and human decision in LSS were well received by the participants. Among main ideas and trends one can include:
a) large systems become ever larger (more complicated and networked) and
b) there is still a need for practical solutions, possibly including new technologies with a view to attaining a correct balance between control techniques and computer and communication tools.
Even though the vast majority of participants to the last Symposiaum were from academia, their papers (including several methodology-oriented ones) described actual applications. It is felt however that efforts should be further made to implement the new developed methods and techniques into industrial products. Also, the current information and communication technologies are to be applied to a larger extent to solve the new problems of networked systems of the current day.
In 2002, at the IFAC World Congress and General Assembly, the IFAC Technical Committee on "Large Scale-Scale Complex Systems" was placed under the Coordinating Committee "Manufacturing Systems", chaired by Professor Shimon Nof. Since then, the scope of the TC was adapted accordingly to reflect the current trends in Control systems and the new position of this TC within the IFAC new organisation. This is:
/The TC will focus on manufacturing and related systems characterized by a large number of variables, nonlinearities, uncertainties, and/or a networked structure of interconnected subsystems. It aims at developing new hierarchical control methods, decision-making and risk analysis techniques together with practical solutions based on new advances in computer and communication tools./
I do hope that all members of this TC and the members of the control community will contribute to the successful fulfillment of the mission of this TC.