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DUT: Using computer generated techniques to solve real life problems

DUT: Using computer generated techniques to solve real life problems


Systems expert Prof Kevin Duffy is doing research using a systems perspective to understand dynamics of a number of given situations in broader society.

Prof Duffy’s systems models help to understand situations as diverse as the impact of people influx from rural areas into urban settings and the movement of elephants in game reserves to determine the impact the latter will have on vegetation and its surroundings. He is the Director of the Centre for Systems Research at the Durban University of Technology.

Based on his research Prof Duffy has built computer based systems models that can be used to understand and solve a variety of problems such as availability of food resources and HIV/AIDS prevalence. These models can for example determine the impact of worker deterioration (through HIV/AIDS or other health related factors) on economic realities. Such models can be used by industry to understand how it operates in terms of production, work deterioration and to optimize functionality. The approaches use combinations of different techniques such as Monte Carlo, Agent Based and Discreet Event modeling. He says these techniques can be applied to investigate trade-offs between different management strategies.

Looking at his research from an economic perspective he says tourism in South Africa and Africa as a whole is the third most important economic sector. He adds that game reserves and in particular elephants are important aspects to attracting tourists to South Africa. He chose the elephant because it is a popular animal that people from abroad associate with Africa when they think of visiting. He has developed mathematical and computer models to understand how elephant populate and impact game reserves when re-introduced to them. This work has an interesting connection to DUT who’s corporate logo and symbol as “a power house of technology” is the elephant.

Prof Duffy plans to further develop systems approaches using different technical methodologies including mathematical and statistical methods to solve problems. In another example, he has developed a new methodology for the classification of types and has received R260 000 in funding to pursue this research by fostering research collaboration with China.

Prof Duffy maintains that the Centre for Systems Research aims to be a leader in applicable systems research amongst Universities of Technology across the world. In so doing, many postdoctoral, doctoral and masters’ students will be trained. He has published this work in numerous scientific journals

For more information contact Prof Kevin Duffy on 031 373 2747.