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Complexity Growth in Aerospace Systems

Use of self-learning and resilient components permits aerospace systems today to achieve more and accomplish tasks that were otherwise not possible. This degree of freedom however has led to an almost exponential growth in system complexity the past few decades.


The figure measures the complexity growth using on-board lines of source code in thousands. Data compiled from [1] -[4].

New Challenges

Complexity in a system stems from Interaction! Whether it is:

  • Interaction between the various subsystems
  • Interaction between the environment and the subsystem(s)
  • Interaction between “agents”
  • or lot more

The result of this interaction is the proliferation of:

  • Near infinite state space/ environmental conditions, and
  • Composition of system(s) in a way that may result in potentially catastrophic behaviorChallenges.png

Impact on Cost and Constraints on Innovation


The direct consequence of software complexity is emergent and sometimes even unexpected behavior due to interaction between different components of software and hardware. Further, testing, evaluating and certifying each of these consequences places unmanageable demands on computational resources and development cost.


Our Capabilities

Research in the Advanced Dynamics, Validation & Control Research Laboratory specializes in the following three emerging areas for complex systems:

  • Model complex phenomena spanning temporal and spatial scales
  • Model reduction
  • Analytic approximations for predicting emergent behavior
  • System safety assessment
  • Detect critical configuration/control parameters
  • Characterize nonlinear systems
  • Maneuvering/tracking control
  • Networked systems design
  • Combined passive and active control


Our Key Figures

National and International recognitions

  • NSF CAREER Recipient
  • (2) AIAA GN&C Best Graduate Student Paper Award 
  • (2) AFRL Space Scholars
  • DoD SMART Fellow
  • Best Presentation in Session Awards (AIAA/IEEE)
  • (1) Graduate School Fund for Excellence & Innovation  


  • 25+ archival publications
  • Conferences: AIAA SciTech, AIAA/AAS, IEEE CDC, ACC, SIAM


$1.3M from federal, state and private foundations. $40k in-kind from industry partners.

Sponsors & Partners