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Professor Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson, Professor of Complexity Science and Design

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Design Discipline at the OU in 1981 after three years in the Geography Department at Cambridge University working with Graham Chapman and Peter Gould. Before that I was in the Mathematics Department at Essex University working with Ron Atkin on his theory of Q-analysis for social systems. This has developed into what I now call multilevel hypernetworks. This research involves the application of hypernetwork theory in the design and management of complex social and technical systems at local and global levels in the emerging policy-oriented field of Global Systems Science.

My BA and PhD are in mathematics. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, a Fellow of the British Computer Society,  a Chartered Mathematician and Chartered Engineer. I have been director of various engineering and consulting companies and am the CEO of Vision Scientific Ltd, a company I founded with Phil Picton in 1989. I am a Past President of the Complex Systems Society, and Deputy President of the UNESCO UniTwin Digital Campus for Complex Systems (CD-DC).

My OU undergraduate teaching has included: creating the CADPAC suite of interactive computer exercises for T363: Computer Aided Design; creating the SmartLab suite of interactive computer exercises for T395 - Mechatronics, Designing Intelligent Machine and co-authoring with Phil Picton the textbook Mechatronics: Concepts in Artificial Intelligence; leading the development of T183 - Design and the WebT184 - Robotics and the meaning of life, A178 - Perspectives on Leonardo, TM190 - The Story of Maths, T218: Design for Engineers, and writing the interactive computer exercises for T174 - Engineering the Future. I am currently production and presentation chair of  T212 Electronics: sensing, logic & actuation.(2017),  member of the T312 Electronics module production team (2019), and member of the team producing the new Open STEM Laboratory giving students remote access to hand-on electronics and robotics experiements.

I led the teams creating the FutureLearn MOOCS for the CS-DC: Global Systems Science and Policy,  Systems thinking and complexity, and First steps in data science with Google Analytics.

My recent books are Non-Equilibrium Social Science (2017) for Policy and Hypernetworks in the Science of Complex Systems (2014).

I am currently a partner on the Erasmus Da.Re. Project (Data Science Pathways to Reimagine Education) which is creating 150 hours blended online and face-to-face education in data science.

My OU PhD supervisions include: Richard Murphy -Constraint-based design synthesis for computer aided design (1993); Meng Hua - A neural network based strategy for robot navigation in dynamic environments (1994), Paul Margerison - An algorithmic and interactive approach to computer art (1995), George Glaze - Graphic design evaluation: towards a rule-based system (1995), David Durling - Teaching with style: computer aided instruction, personality and design education (1996), Claudia Eckert - Intelligent support for knitwear design (1997), Linda Waddoups - A binary representation for built form (2001), Jack Cawkwell - An automated guided vehicle for local transport (2004), Sunny Bains - Physical computation and embodied artificial intelligence (2004), Nick Scott - Measures from complexity science provide manufacturing companies with insights previously unavailable to them (2004), John Welford - Artificial Intelligent for classifying oral lesions (2005), Pejman Iravani - An architecture for multilevel learning and robotic control based on concept generation (2005), Valery Rose - Evolutionary adaptive self-learning machine vision (2010), Joan Serras - Multidimensional multilevel representation for traffic simulation models (2008), James Law - Abstracting multidimensional concepts for multilevel decisionmaking in multirobot systems (2008),  Vikas Chandra - Patenting and publication networks in stem cell research (2009), Paul Morley. Investigation into automated laundry sorting (2012), Anthony Johnston - Sensory augmentation for navigation in difficult urban environments by people with visual impairment (2013), Iain Kusel - A computational model of the emergence of seriation in the young child (2014), Tasos Varoudis - Augmented visibility in architectural space influencing movement patterns (2014), Bjorn Madsen - How to Make the Most Productive Intervention in a Complex Economic System (2015). Cristian Jimenez-Romero - A heterosynaptic spiking neural system for the development of Autonomous agents (2017). Pam Garthwait - Resilient Hospital Refurbishment (2017). Current supervision:  Charlotte Foster: Video production in the social welfare charity sector – processes, narrative and ethics (supported by AHRC Design Star). Richard Charlesworth - Representing multilevel systems for self-programing machines, Phil Davies - Systems thinking and complexity in policing, Ruggero Rossi, Multilevel hypernetworks in team robotics.

email: jeff dot johnson at open dot ac dot uk

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Design Group: Complexity Science and DesignGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology