Complex infrastructure systems analysis and management: the theory of faults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this research is to provide a theoretical and practical theory and application that provides understanding and means to manage complex infrastructures. Design/methodology/approach: In this research, complexity, nonlinear, noncontinuous effects and aleatoric and data unknowns are bypassed by directly addressing systems' responses. Graph theory, statistics and digital signal processing (DSP) tools are applied within a theoretical framework of the theory of faults (ToF). Motivational complex infrastructure systems (CISs) are difficult to model. Data are often missing or erroneous, changes are not well documented and processes are not well understood. On top of it, under complexity, stalwart analytical tools have limited predictive power. The aleatoric risk, such as rain and risk cascading from interconnected infrastructures, is unpredictable. Mitigation, response and recovery efforts are adversely affected. Findings: The theory and application are presented and demonstrated by a step-by-step development of an application to a municipal drainage system. A database of faults is analyzed to produce system statistics, spatio-temporal morphology, behavior and traits. The gained understanding is compared to the physical system's design and to its modus operandi. Implications for design and maintenance are inferred; DSP tools to manage the system in real time are developed. Research limitations/implications: Sociological systems are interest driven. Some events are intentionally created and directed to the benefit and detriment of the opposing parties in a project. Those events may be explained and possibly predicted by understanding power plays, not power functions. For those events, sociological game theories provide better explanatory value than mathematical gain theories. Practical implications: The theory provides a thematic network for modeling and resolving aleatoric uncertainty in engineering and sociological systems. The framework may be elaborated to fields such as energy, healthcare and critical infrastructure. Social implications: ToF provides a framework for the modeling and prediction of faults generated by inherent aleatoric uncertainties in social and technological systems. Therefore, the framework and theory lay the basis for automated monitoring and control of aleatoric uncertainties such as mechanical failures and human errors and the development of mitigation systems. Originality/value: The contribution of this research is in the provision of an explicatory theory and a management paradigm for complex systems. This theory is applicable to a wide variety of fields from facilities and construction project management to maintenance and from academic studies to commercial use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2023


  • Climate change
  • Complex infrastructure management
  • Risk
  • Stormwater drainage systems
  • The theory of faults [ToF]

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Cultural Studies
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Urban Studies


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