More on Randomness and Resiliency


I’ve been talking a bit about the idea that in complex environments, some randomness and disorder can build resilience. In my last post on this idea, we drew in some ideas from research on electrical grids. Now, we can also draw in some ideas from research on vaccines.

What the researchers found was that “A bit of randomness in treatment schedules may actually help manage a disease outbreak.”

“A classic disease model would suggest that every infected person must be isolated and treated before the disease can die out. But complexity theory shows that occasionally, the disease will die out due to random and unpredictable factors.” (bold added)

Note again the point that complex environments (i.e. the real world, economies, or Byzantine networks like school systems) are subject to random and unpredictable factors. Now the conclusion that the researchers make is interesting:

“the researchers conclude that when resources are limited, treatment should be distributed to a larger percentage of the population in a few random, closely distributed pulses, rather than many smaller pulses distributed to fewer people.” (bold added)

 Any thoughts on how this might apply to school systems?

If you are interested in learning more about this idea of randomness and how it can be used productively, I recommend this article, “Joys of Noise,” on Nautilus, which examines how noise is used in engineering, cryptography, gambling, and other fields to enhance technologies.

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