Applying system thinking to learn from accident of modern automatic control systems

Ru Niu, Yuan Cao, Xiaocheng Ge, Tao Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Modern societies increasingly rely on automatic control systems. These systems are hardly pure technical systems; instead they are complex socio-technical systems, which consist of technical elements and social components. It is necessary to have a systematic approach to analyze these systems because it is growing evidence that accidents from these systems usually have complex causal factors which form an interconnected network of events, rather than a simple cause-effect chain. We take railway Train control systems (TCS) as an example to demonstrate the importance of the socio-technical approach to analyze the system. The paper presents an investigation of recent high-speed railway accident by applying STAMP one of the most notable socio-technical system analysis techniques, outlines improvements to the system which could avoid similar accidents in the future. We also provide our valuable feedback for the use of STAMP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-414
Number of pages6
JournalChinese Journal of Electronics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


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