Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2009

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Kusiak, Andrew

First Committee Member

Krokhmal, Pavlo

Second Committee Member

Ratner, Albert


Innovation has long been considered crucial for companies to gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, a solid understanding of the system of innovation does not exist. The literature lacks formal definitions and methodologies for the system of innovation. Many surrogates for innovation metrics have been posited in past research but none have solidified the overall concept of an innovation system or science.

It has been speculated that innovation as a system is complex. Additionally, some researchers have suggested that this innovation system is adaptive. In these instances, of the literature, surrogates were again utilized in place of solid modeling and hypothesis that is benchmarked against real world case studies. Surrogates, such as patent citation, do serve a useful purpose to assist in the understanding of the historic nature of the innovation system but they fall short of defining the system completely.

This paper seeks to aid in the solidification of a hypothesis of the system of innovation as a complex adaptive system. Initial consideration is directed towards the historic interactions that have taken place in the system of innovation. These interactions are viewed through the surrogate of patent citation as there is little other record of innovation. The novelty of this paper is that patent citations form not the core but rather a starting point for the definition of innovation as a complex adaptive system.

Various models are built using techniques of cellular automata as well as agent-based modeling to assist in the understanding of the principles at work in the innovation system. These models present startling evidence that there exists an upper bound on the number of interactions any one invention should utilize in its course towards being deemed an innovation. Additionally, the models describe the benefits of partnership between innovating entities in a rapidly changing marketplace such as the current technological markets. This paper asserts specific conclusions, from the models, that assist in understanding that the system of innovation is truly a complex adaptive system. The models are further supported through real world examples.


Cellular Automata, Complex Adaptive Systems, Evolutionary Algorithms, Innovation


ix, 123 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 116-123).


Copyright 2009 Joseph John Engler