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  • Faramarz Maghsoodlou (faramarz@ieee.org)

What Is Resilience?

Updated: Jul 1, 2020


Resilience is the ability of a system to respond to unforeseen events while maintaining and enhancing its essential services to meet its purpose. The most basic purpose of a system is to survive. Over time, a resilient, purposeful system learns to co-exist with its environment and evolves to attain higher level goals.


In these blogs we are interested in the resilience of socio-economic systems that serve the betterment of human condition, in a fair, just, and sustainable way. Given that humanity's very existence depends on the natural environment that we live in, resilience in the socio-economic system is inseparable from maintaining biodiversity and defending the delicate balance in the natural world that has given rise to our species.


Natural systems exhibit resilience in a perfect way. They have adapted to change in their environment over time and have learned to survive and thrive in the face of change and disruptive events.


Social, economic, and technological systems typically lack robustness and resilience that we see in the natural world. Ironically, complexity and increasing interdependency in social and technological systems lead to increasing fragility. These systems are typically designed and configured to operate efficiently within a narrow operating range. Any disruption that knocks the systems off its "normal" operating condition can lead to overall system failure. Resilient systems, on the other hand, are able to withstand random disturbances, respond adaptively to maintain their structure and essential service, and are able to recover. In fact, having survived a disruptive event, a truly resilient system is more robust having attained the ability to overcome similar encounters in the future. That is the definition of resilience.


Here are the questions that we want to explore:

  • Do we understand the essential properties and common patterns in resilient systems?

  • Can we design and operate our socio-economic systems in a way that makes them more resilient?

  • What are the essential services in a socio-economic system that lead to the betterment of human condition in a just, fair, and sustainable way?

  • How can we coexist with our natural environment and stop the depletion and pollution of the natural world that supports and sustains our very existence?

  • Can we reverse the destructive trend of destroying our natural world and work towards the recovery of natural resources that have been lost due to overuse and negligence?


Our approach is to survey the concept of resilience in different contexts and domains in order to discover their essential properties and common patterns in these systems. our hope is that we can learn to apply these principles in creating a better world for future generations.


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