Complex Systems – Introduction and Five Properties.

Leave a comment

November 11, 2013 by Zerub Roberts

Image

The study of complex systems has had an increasing interest over the last few decades. Market failures, International relations, and the quest to understand consciousness are some of the motives. The great advantage this field has is the massively broad scope. From understanding ecosystems to biological emergence to economics and war.

First, it might help to understand what exactly is a complex system. Some of the features that make up a complex system are –

1. Unpredictability

2. Large events

3. Robustness

4. Emergence

5. Novelty.

I’d go more into the details of each of these later on. From the last, evolutionary adaptation leads to fascinating creatures. The little neurons firing in your brain produce consciousness, an emergent phenomena. The same is true for ‘wetness’ – a property that emerges out of molecules combining to form water. An emergent property would be something that’s absent in the parts – neurons aren’t conscious and a single water molecule isn’t wet.

Robustness is even more common – a loss of one species wouldn’t destroy the the ecosystem; small strikes wouldn’t ruin an organization, neither would common failures destroy a market so easily – A complex system can withstand damage. Complex systems can produce really large events – war because of rising political upheaval; a global recession because market failures have reached a tipping point etc..

The more important feature is Unpredictability – these systems don’t keep doing the same thing periodically. Neither is their behavior totally chaotic. They border in-between.

That’s all for now. We’d talk more about these very soon – rugged landscapes, tipping points, positive feedbacks, emergence, self-organized criticality and agent-based models.

Next time – the difference between a complex system and a complicated system. Nope, they are not the same!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Zerub Roberts

Click on the image

A Quote

"The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it"

- Bertrand Russell

Scientia Salon

An archived blog about science & philosophy, by Massimo Pigliucci

phantasmagothica

You are schizophrenic. I do not exist.

Philosophical Disquisitions

An honest look at the world of talking primates

Experimental Philosophy

An honest look at the world of talking primates

Matters of Substance

An honest look at the world of talking primates

Philosophers Anonymous

An honest look at the world of talking primates

Practical Ethics

An honest look at the world of talking primates

The Prosblogion

An honest look at the world of talking primates

Overcoming Bias

An honest look at the world of talking primates

Mind Hacks

Neuroscience and psychology news and views.

Sean Carroll

An honest look at the world of talking primates

The psych files

Psychology podcast and resources for students and educators

Stephen Law

An honest look at the world of talking primates

ex-apologist

An honest look at the world of talking primates

Being Completely Human

An honest look at the world of talking primates

%d bloggers like this: