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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 policy-oriented application of hypernetwork theory in the design and management of complex social and technical systems at local and global levels.

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,  writing the interactive computer exercises for T174 - Engineering the Future, chairing the  production and presentation of  T212 Electronics: sensing, logic & actuation,  creating 'VisionLab' for the T312 Electronics module production team, and producing teaching materials for the new Open STEM Laboratory giving students remote access to hand-on electronics and robotics experiements. This includes leadng the creation of the NanoLab suite of interactive experiments for T366 NanoTechnology .

I worked with teams creating FutureLearn MOOCS for the CS-DC including: Global Systems Science and Policy,  Systems Thinking and Complexity, and First Steps in Data Science with Google Analytics In 2020 I created the course Pandemics, modelling and policy.

My most recent books are  Hypernetworks in the Science of Complex Systems (2014) and Non-Equilibrium Social Science (2017). My new book , Designing the Future, scheduled for 2022 shows how a synthesis between the design process, complex systems science and hypernetwork theory provides a framework for sucessfully creating and managing the complex social and socio-technical systems of the future.

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).  Charlotte Foster:  A ‘self-production approach for charities’: supporting and developing in-house video production in small UK charities (2021). Current supervisions:  Richard Charlesworth - Representing multilevel systems for self-programing machines, Phil Davies - Systems thinking and complexity in policing, Ruggero Rossi, Multilevel hypernetworks in team robotics, Barry O'Reilly - Using hypernetworks to reach antifragility in software systems design, Neil Andrews - Cooperating and Swarm Robots,  Davin Parrot - The probabilistic assessment of intelligence and decisionmaking.

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

Publications

Science is not another opinion (2021-03)
Denning, Peter J. and Johnson, Jeffrey
Communications of the ACM, 64(3) (pp. 36-38)


COVID-19 and computation for policy (2020-10)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Denning, Peter; Delic, Kemal and Bromley, Jane
Ubiquity, 2020(October) (pp. 1-14)


Big Data: Business, Technology, Education, and Science (2018-07)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Tesei, Luca; Piangerelli, Marco; Merelli, Emanuela; Paci, Riccardo; Stojanovic, Nenad; Leitão, Paulo; Barbosa, José and Amador, Marco
Ubiquity, 2018(July) (pp. 1-13)


High Performance Synthetic Information Environments : An integrating architecture in the age of pervasive data and computing (2018-03)
Barrett, Christopher L.; Johnson, Jeffrey and Marathe, Madhav
ACM Ubiquity, 2018(3) (pp. 1-11)


SpikingLab: modelling agents controlled by Spiking Neural Networks in Netlogo (2017)
Jimenez-Romero, Cristian and Johnson, Jeffrey
Neural Computing and Applications, 28(Suppl 1) (pp. 755-764)


Hypernetworks: Multidimensional relationships in multilevel systems (2016-09-30)
Johnson, J.H.
European Physical Journal Special Topics, 225(6) (pp. 1037-1052)


Neural hypernetwork approach for pulmonary embolism diagnosis (2015-10-29)
Rucco, Matteo; Sousa-Rodriges, David; Merelli, Emanuela; Johnson, Jeffrey H.; Falsetti, Lorenzo; Nitti, Cinzia and Salvi, Aldo
BMC Research Notes, 8(617)


Challenges in complex systems science (2012-10)
San Miguel, M.; Johnson, J. H.; Kertesz, J.; Kaski, K.; Diaz-Guilera, A.; MacKay, R. S.; Loreto, V.; Erdi, P. and Helbing, D.
European Physics Journal Special Topics, 214 (pp. 245-271)


The FuturICT education accelerator (2012-10)
Johnson, J.; Buckingham Shum, S.; Willis, A.; Bishop, S.; Zamenopoulos, T.; Swithenby, S.; MacKay, R.; Merali, Y.; Lorincz, A.; Costea, C.; Bourgine, P.; Louçã, J.; Kapenieks, A.; Kelly, P.; Caird, S.; Bromley, J.; Deakin Crick, R.; Goldspink, C.; Collet, P.; Carbone, A. and Helbing, D.
European Physical Journal - Special Topics, 214 (pp. 215-243)


The future of the social sciences and humanities in the science of complex systems (2010-06)
Johnson, Jeffrey
Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 23(2) (pp. 115-134)


Involvement of right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in ill-structured design cognition: An fMRI study (2010)
Gilbert, S.; Zamenopoulos, T.; Alexiou, K. and Johnson, J.
Brain Research, 1312(C) (pp. 79-88)


Exploring the neurological basis of design cognition using brain imaging: some preliminary results (2009)
Alexiou, K.; Zamenopoulos, T.; Johnson, J. H. and Gilbert, S. J.
Design Studies, 30(6) (pp. 623-647)


Science and policy in designing complex futures (2008-08)
Johnson, Jeffrey
Futures, 40(6) (pp. 520-536)


The multilevel hypernetwork dynamics of complex systems of robot soccer agents (2007-06)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Iravani, Pejman
ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems, 2(2)


Complexity Theory: a Science of Cultural Systems? (2007-06)
Cham, Karen and Johnson, Jeffrey
M/C Journal, 10:(3) (pp. 21-34)


An approach to the design of interactive environments with reference to choreography, architecture, the complex systems of 4D design (2007)
Robertson, A.; Lycouris, S. and Johnson, J.H.
International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, 3(2-3) (pp. 281-294)


Insights into lean manufacturing from complex systems measures (2007)
Scott, N. A.; Frizelle, G. and Johnson, J. H.
International Journal of Agile Manufacturing, 10(2) (pp. 125-128)


Can complexity help us better understand risk? (2006-10)
Johnson, J. H.
Risk Management, 8(4) (pp. 227-267)


Complexity through combination: an account of knitwear design (2006-03)
Sharp, Helen; Petre, Marian and Johnson, Jeffrey
Design Studies, 27(2) (pp. 183-222)


Complexity science in collaborative design (2005-12)
Johnson, Jeffrey
CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 1(4) (pp. 223-242)


RoboCupJunior: learning with educational robots (2003)
Sklar, Elizabeth; Eguchi, Amy and Johnson, Jeffrey
AI Magazine, 24(2; Summer) (pp. 43-46)


Learning from designing the RoboFesta - Blue Peter robots (2003)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Hirst, Tony and Garner, Steven
Artificial Life and Robotics, 7 (pp. 22-27)


Children, robotics, and education (2003)
Johnson, Jeffrey
Artificial Life and Robotics, 7(1-2) (pp. 16-21)


Fundamental structures in the design of machine vision systems (2001-04)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Simon, Jean-Claude
Mathematical Geology, 33(3) (pp. 331-352)


Visual communication in swarms of intelligent robot agents (2001)
Johnson, Jeffrey
Artificial Life and Robotics, 5(1) (pp. 1-9)


The "can you trust it?" problem of simulation science in the design of socio-technical systems (2001)
Johnson, Jeffrey
Complexity, 6(2) (pp. 34-40)


Intelligent support for communication in design teams: garment shape specifications in the knitwear industry (2000-01)
Eckert, Claudia M.; Cross, Nigel and Johnson, Jeffrey H.
Design Studies, 21(1) (pp. 99-112)


An interactive computer model of urban development: the rules governing the morphology of mediaeval London. (1985)
Brown, F. E. and Johnson, J. H.
Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 12(4) (pp. 377-400)


The Q-analysis of road traffic systems (1981)
Johnson, J. H.
Environment and Planning B. Planning and Design, 8(2) (pp. 141-189)


Hypernetworks in the science of complex systems (2013-12-31)
Johnson, Jeffrey
Series on complexity science
ISBN : 9781860949722 | Publisher : Imperial College Press | Published : London


Autonomous decentralised systems and society (2018-12)
Harrison, Colin and Johnson, Jeffrey
In: Mori, Kinji and Kunifuji, Takashi eds. Autonomous Decentralized Systems and their Applications in Transport and Infrastructure (pp. 215-234)
ISBN : 9781785612824 | Publisher : The Institution of Engineering and Technology


Multilevel systems and policy (2018-01-26)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Fortune, Joyce and Bromley, Jane
In: Mitleton-Kelly, Eve; Paraskevas, Alexandros and Day, Christopher eds. Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science: Theory and Applications (pp. 363-387)
ISBN : 9781785364419 / 9781785364426 | Publisher : Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd | Published : Cheltenham, UK


Global Systems Science and Policy (2017-02-05)
Dum, Ralph and Johnson, Jeffrey
In: Johnson, Jeffrey; Nowak, Andrzej; Ormerod, Paul; Rosewell, Bridget and Zhang, Yi-Cheng eds. Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy: Introduction and Essays on New and Changing Paradigms in Socio-Economic Thinking. Understanding Complex Systems (pp. 209-225)
ISBN : 978-3-319-42422-4 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham, Switzerland


Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy (2017-02-05)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Ormerod, Paul; Nowak, Andrzej; Rosewell, Bridget and Zhang, Yi-Cheng
In: Johnson, Jeffrey; Nowak, Andrzej; Ormerod, Paul; Rosewell, Bridget and Zhang, Y-Cheng eds. Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy: Introduction and Essays on New and Changing Paradigms in Socio-Economic Thinking. Understanding Complexity (pp. 1-17)
ISBN : 978-3-319-42422-4 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham, Switzerland


Systems, Networks and Policy (2017-02-05)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Fortune, Joyce and Bromley, Jane M.
In: Johnson, Jeffrey; Nowak, Andrzej; Ormerod, Paul; Rosewell, Bridget and Zhang, Yi-Chang eds. Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy: Introduction and Essays on New and Changing Paradigms in Socio-Economic Thinking. Understanding Complex Systems (pp. 111-134)
ISBN : 978-3-319-42422-4 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham, Switzerland


Embracing n-ary Relations in Network Science (2016)
Johnson, Jeffrey H.
In: Wierzbicki, Adam; Brandes, Ulrik; Schweitzer, Frank and Pedreschi, Dino eds. Advances in Network Science: 12th International Conference and School, NetSci-X 2016, Wroclaw, Poland, January 11-13, 2016, Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (9564) (pp. 147-160)
ISBN : 978-3-319-28360-9 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Switzerland


Policy Design, Planning, and Management in Global Systems Science (2015)
Johnson, Jeffrey
In: Cardin, Michel-Alexandre; Krob, Daniel; Pao, Chuen Lui; Yang, How Tan and Wood, Kristin eds. Complex Systems Design & Management Asia. Designing Smart Cities: Proceedings of the First Asia - Pacific Conference on Complex Systems Design & Management, CSD&M Asia 2014 (pp. 125-132)
ISBN : 9783319125435 | Publisher : Springer


Policy design: a new area of design research and practice. (2013-12)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Cook, Matthew
In: Aiguier, Marc; Boulanger, Frédéric; Krob, Daniel and Clotilde, Marchal eds. Complex Systems in Design and Management (pp. 51-62)
ISBN : 978-3-319-02811-8 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Heidelberg


Cities: systems of systems of systems (2012-02)
Johnson, Jeffrey
In: Portugali, Juval; Meyer, Han; Stolk, Egbert and Tan, Ekim eds. Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age. Springer Complexity (pp. 153-172)
ISBN : 978-3-642-24543-5 | Publisher : Springer-Verlag | Published : Berlin


Embracing complexity in design: emerging perspectives and opportunities (2010-01)
Alexiou, Katerina; Johnson, Jeffrey and Zamenopoulos, Theodore
In: Inns, Tom ed. Designing for the 21st century: research methods & findings (pp. 87-100)
ISBN : 9781409402404 | Publisher : Gower Ashgate | Published : United Kingdom


Embracing design in complexity (2009-09-04)
Johnson, Jeffrey
In: Alexiou, Aikaterini; Johnson, Jeffrey and Zamenopoulos, Theodore eds. Embracing complexity in design (pp. 193-203)
ISBN : 978-0-415-49700-8 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon


Embracing complexity in design (2007-12)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Alexiou, Katerina; Creigh-Tyte, Anne; Chase, Scott; Duffy, Alex; Eckert, Claudia; Gascoigne, Damian; Kumar, Bimal; Mitleton-Kelly, Eve; Petry, Michael; Qin, Sheng Fen; Robertson, Alec; Rzevski, George; Teymour, Necdet; Thompson, Avril; Young, Robert; Willis, Mateo and Zamenopoulos, Theodore
In: Inns, Tom ed. Designing for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Questions and Insights (pp. 129-149)
ISBN : 9780566087370 | Publisher : Gower Publishing Limited | Published : Aldershot


Complexity (2005)
Earl, Chris; Johnson, Jeffrey and Eckert, Claudia
In: Clarkson, John and Eckert, Claudia eds. Design Process Improvement: A Review Of Current Practice (pp. 174-197)
ISBN : 185233701X | Publisher : Springer Science + Business Media | Published : London, U.K.


Complexity (2005)
Earl, Chris; Johnson, Jeffrey and Eckert, Claudia
In: Clarkson, John and Eckert, Claudia eds. Design process improvement: a review of current practice. Springer Science+Business (pp. 174-197)
ISBN : 1-85233-701-X | Publisher : Springer Verlag | Published : London, UK


Complexity of planning in design (2005)
Earl, Christopher; Eckert, Claudia and Johnson, Jeffrey
In: Tumer, Irem Y.; Hayes, Caroline and Gupta, S. K. eds. Proceedings of the 2001 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
ISBN : 9780791847381 | Publisher : American Society of Mechanical Engineers | Published : New York


Complexity science and representation in robot soccer (2004)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Price, Blaine A.
In: Polani, Daniel; Browning, Brett; Bonarini, Andrea and Yoshida, Kazuo eds. RoboCup 2003: Robot Soccer World Cup VII. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (pp. 67-76)
ISBN : 978-3-540-22443-3 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Berlin


Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy: Introduction and Essays on New and Changing Paradigms in Socio-Economic Thinking (2017-02-05)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Nowak, Andrzej; Ormerod, Paul; Rosewell, Bridget and Zhang, Yi-Cheng eds.
Understanding Complex Systems
ISBN : 978-3-319-42422-4 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham, Switzerland


Embracing complexity in design (2009-09)
Alexiou, Aikaterini; Johnson, Jeffrey and Zamenopoulos, Theodore eds.
ISBN : 978-0-415-49700-8 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : UK


A Structural Language for Multilevel Dynamics in the Design of Robot Soccer Systems (2021)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Rossi, Ruggero
(pp. 270-276)


Dynamic Structures for Evolving Tactics and Strategies in Team Robotics (2018-02-01)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Rossi, Ruggero
In : International Conference on Artificial Life and Robotics (ICAROB2018) (1-4 Feb 2018, Beppu, Oita, JAPAN) (pp. 126-131)


Big Data, Digitization, and Social Change (Ubiquity Symposium) (2017-12-20)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Denning, Peter; Sousa-Rodrigues, David and Delic, Kemal A.
In : Ubiquity Symposium on Big Data (2017-2018)


Hypernetwork-based peer marking for scalable certificated mass education (2014-09)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Jimenez-Romero, Cristian; Rodrigues, David and Bromley, Jane M.
In : European Conference on Complex Systems 2014 (22-26 Sep 2014, Lucca, Italy)


Peer assessment in architecture education (2014-09)
Teixeira de Sampayo, Mafalda; Sousa-Rodrigues, David; Jimenez-Romero, Cristian and Johnson, Jeffrey
In : 14th International Conference on Technology, Policy and Innovation (9-12 Sep 2014, Brno, Czech Republic)


Machine and social intelligent peer-assessment systems for assessing large student populations in massive open online education (2013-11-02)
Jimenez-Romero, Cristian; Johnson, Jeffrey and De Castro, Ricardo
In : 12th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2013 (30-31 Oct 2013, Sophia Antipolis, France) (pp. 598-607)


Hypernetworks for policy design in systems of systems of systems (2012-12)
Johnson, Jeffrey
In : 2nd International Conference on Complex Sciences: Theory and Applications (5-7 Dec 2012, Santa Fe) (pp. 179-189)


Design interventions, prediction and science in the sustainable transition of large, complex systems, (2010-11-17)
Dewberry, Emma and Johnson, Jeffrey
In : The 2nd International Conference on Design Engineering and Science (ICDES2010) (17-19 Nov, Tokyo)


Hypernetworks of complex systems (2009-07-02)
Johnson, Jeffrey
In : Complex Sciences. First International Conference, Complex 2009, Shanghai, China, February 2009. Revised Papers, Part 1 (23-25 Feb 2009, Shanghai) (pp. 364-375)


Policy, design and management: the in-vivo laboratory for the science of complex socio-technical systems (2009)
Johnson, Jeffrey
In : Complex Sciences: First International Conference, Complex 2009, Shanghai, China, February 2009. Revised Papers, Part 1 (Feb 2009, Shanghai, China) (pp. 232-241)


The multilevel dynamics of very large complex road systems (2008-09)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Serras, Joan
In : Euproean Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS' 08) (14-19 Sep 2008, Jerusalem)


Hypernetworks for reconstructing the dynamics of multilevel systems (2006-09)
Johnson, Jeffrey
In : European Conference on Complex Systems 2006 (25-29 Sep 2006, Oxford)


Robots, art and complexity science (2005-05)
Johnson, Jeff and Hirst, Tony
In : Complexity Symposium: Art, Complexity and Technology: Their Interaction in Emergence (5-6 May 2005, Torino, Italy)


Robotics and the meaning of life: a practical guide to things that think (2005)
Rosewell, Jonathan; Johnson, Jeffrey; Hirst, Tony and Price, Blaine
In : CAL '05 'Virtual Learning?' (4-6 Apr 2005, Bristol, UK)


Robotics and the Q-analysis of behaviour (2005)
Iravani, Pejman; Johnson, Jeff H. and Rapanotti, Lucia
In : Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Artificial Life and Robotics (AROB) (4-6 Feb 2005, Beneppu, Japan)


Representing Patterns of autonomous agent dynamics in multi-robot systems (2003)
Johnson, Jeffrey and Price, Blaine
In : The Eighth International Symposium on Artificial Life and Robotics (AROB-8) (24-26 Jan 2003, Beppu, Oita, Japan) (pp. 228-253)


Complexity in planning design processes (2001)
Earl, C. F.; Eckert, C. M. and Johnson, J.
In : Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Engineering Design: Design Research – Theories, Methodologies and Product Modelling (ICED'01) (21-23 Aug 2001, Glasgow, UK) (pp. 149-156)


Complex systems science: expert consultation report (2009-12)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Bourgine, Paul and Hales, David
The European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.