Complex Systems

Edited by Jon Lawhead (University of Southern California)
About this topic
Summary The study of complex systems is an interdisciplinary field that examines how the interaction of many parts can give rise to holistic collective behavior at the system level.  Contemporary complex systems science is a synthesis of many different areas of inquiry, including non-linear dynamical systems theory, chaos theory, cybernetics, control theory, information theory, multiscale modeling, and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.  There is as-yet no widely accepted general definition of "complex system," but a few common themes or properties can be observed.  Complex systems frequently tend to display self-organization, autopoiesis, non-linearity in their dynamics, chaotic behavior, emergent properties, adaptation or some combination of these traits.  In the natural sciences, the global climate, the economy, neural networks, and living organisms are among the systems generally regarded as "complex," and the methods or tools of complex systems theory are frequently applied to their study.  A holistic understanding of complex systems frequently involves contributions from many areas, including both the social and physical sciences as well as the humanities.  Given the challenges associated with coordinating this kind of vast interdisciplinary collaboration, philosophy--with its emphasis on what Wilfrid Sellars famously called "bridge-building" between disparate disciplines--has a clear and obvious role to play.  The study of complex systems also overlaps with a number of traditional problems in the philosophy of science and metaphysics, including mereology, the nature of laws and explanations, supervenience, emergence and reduction, the scale-relativity of ontology, and functionalism.  Applied philosophical issues raised by complex systems include: how do we understand causation and explanation in systems that require analysis from multiple perspectives, and which resist hierarchical organizational schemes?  Can computer simulations and multi-scale modeling provide a new way to explore strong emergence and self-organization?  How can we design organizational systems to most effectively engage in collaborative decision making while still mitigating the risks associated with large-scale collective action problems?  These questions are of extremely general importance as we move forward into the 21st century, and how we choose to address them will have implications for a diverse set of topics: challenges like how to meet the problems posed by anthropogenic climate change, how the digital revolution stands to impact our social organizations, how human society will cope with increasingly autonomous artificially intelligent agents, and how to design or manage the behavior of novel complex adaptive organisms all involve coming to grips with complexity theoretic concepts to some degree.
Key works Work in the fields from which modern complexity theory emerged, including information theory (Weaver 1948), chaos theory (Lorenz 1963; Prigogine 1984), statistical physics (Anderson 1994), and cybernetics (Simon 1962) are important for a foundational understanding of the relevant concepts.  Important early works in complexity theory include Lloyd & Pagels 1988 and Gell-Mann 1995.  More contemporary contributions have been made by Bar-Yam 2004 (which explores the mathematical foundations of strong emergence), Ladyman et al 2013 (which offers a taxonomy of definitions of 'complexity'), and Hooker 2013 (which explores the physical underpinnings of complex dynamics).
Introductions Mitchell 2009Auyang 1999Hooker msMitchell 2009Dennett 1991
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  1. Climate Change and Spiritual Transformation.David John Midgley - 2007 - In Mary Midgley (ed.), Earthy Realism: The Meaning of Gaia. Exeter, UK: pp. 95-101.
    The continued failure of our civilisation to mobilise an adequate response to the crisis of climate change is traced to a pathological condition of culture analogous to addiction in the case of an individual. The exponential increase in the use of fossil fuel energy has both fuelled, and been driven by, an increasingly mechanistic and materialistic world-outlook that is inimical to acceptance of the measures needed to prevent catastrophic anthropogenic climate change. A holistic view of nature, drawn from such disciplines (...)
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  2. Emergent Quasiparticles. Or How to Get a Rich Physics From a Sober Metaphysics.Alexandre Guay & Olivier Sartenaer - 2018 - In Melinda Fagan, Otávio Bueno & Ruey-Lin Chen (eds.), Individuation, Process and Scientific Practices. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 214-235.
    Among the very architects of the recent re-emergence of emergentism in the physical sciences, Robert B. Laughlin certainly occupies a prominent place. Through a series of works beginning as early as his Nobel lecture in 1998, a lecture given after having been awarded, together with Störmer and Tsui, the Nobel prize in physics for its contribution in the elucidation of the fractional quantum Hall effect, Laughlin openly and relentlessly advocated a strongly anti-reductionistic view of physics – and, more particularly, of (...)
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  3. Compressibility, Laws of Nature, Initial Conditions and Complexity.Sergio Chibbaro & Angelo Vulpiani - 2017 - Foundations of Physics 47 (10):1368-1386.
    We critically analyse the point of view for which laws of nature are just a mean to compress data. Discussing some basic notions of dynamical systems and information theory, we show that the idea that the analysis of large amount of data by means of an algorithm of compression is equivalent to the knowledge one can have from scientific laws, is rather naive. In particular we discuss the subtle conceptual topic of the initial conditions of phenomena which are generally incompressible. (...)
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  4. The Value of Weather Event Science for Pending UN Climate Policy Decisions.Justin Donhauser - 2017 - Ethics, Policy and Environment (3):263-278.
    This essay furthers debate about the burgeoning science of Probabilistic Event Attribution (PEA) and its relevance to imminent climate policy decisions. It critically examines Allen Thompson and Friederike Otto’s recent arguments concerning the implications of PEA studies for how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) policy framework should be revised during the 2016 ‘review and decision.’ I show that their contention that PEA studies cannot usefully inform decision-making about adaptation policies and strategies is misguided and argue that (...)
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  5. Optimal Synchronization of Two Different in-Commensurate Fractional-Order Chaotic Systems with Fractional Cost Function.Reza Behinfaraz & Mohammadali Badamchizadeh - 2016 - Complexity 21 (S1):401-416.
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  6. Synchronization Analysis of Complex-Variable Chaotic Systems with Discontinuous Unidirectional Coupling.Song Zheng - 2016 - Complexity 21 (6):343-355.
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  7. Identification of Matrices in Science and Engineering.V. F. A. Hendricks, S. A. Jakobsen & Pedersen - 2000 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 31 (2):277-305.
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  8. On Two Mathematical Definitions of Observational Equivalence: Manifest Isomorphism and Ε - Congruence Reconsidered.Christopher Belanger - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (2):69-76.
  9. The Ergodic Hierarchy, Randomness and Hamiltonian Chaos.Joseph Berkovitz, Roman Frigg & Fred Kronz - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (4):661-691.
    Various processes are often classified as both deterministic and random or chaotic. The main difficulty in analysing the randomness of such processes is the apparent tension between the notions of randomness and determinism: what type of randomness could exist in a deterministic process? Ergodic theory seems to offer a particularly promising theoretical tool for tackling this problem by positing a hierarchy, the so-called ‘ergodic hierarchy’, which is commonly assumed to provide a hierarchy of increasing degrees of randomness. However, that notion (...)
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  10. Notes From the Existential Underground: The Universe as a Complex Emergent System.Michelle Kathryn McGee - 2016 - Cosmos and History 12 (2):172-183.
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  11. An Inhomogeneous Space–Time Patching Model Based on a Nonlocal and Nonlinear Schrödinger Equation.Christine C. Dantas - 2016 - Foundations of Physics 46 (10):1269-1292.
    We consider an integrable, nonlocal and nonlinear, Schrödinger equation as a model for building space–time patchings in inhomogeneous loop quantum cosmology. We briefly review exact solutions of the NNSE, specially those obtained through “geometric equivalence” methods. Furthemore, we argue that the integrability of the NNSE could be linked to consistency conditions derived from LQC, under the assumption that the patchwork dynamics behaves as an integrable many-body system.
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  12. Five Frames for the "Decameron": Communication and Social Systems in the "Cornice". Joy Hambuechen Potter.Anthony Cassell - 1985 - Speculum 60 (1):190-192.
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  13. The Crack-Branching Velocity.S. R. Anthony, J. P. Chubb & J. Congleton - 1970 - Philosophical Magazine 22 (180):1201-1216.
  14. Non-Linear Lattice Models: Complex Dynamics, Pattern Formation and Aspects of Chaos.J. Pouget - 2005 - Philosophical Magazine 85 (33-35):4067-4094.
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  15. Further Results on the Impulsive Synchronization of Uncertain Complex-Variable Chaotic Delayed Systems.Song Zheng - 2016 - Complexity 21 (5):131-142.
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  16. Adaptive Impulsive Synchronization of Uncertain Delayed Chaotic System with Full Unknown Parameters Via Discrete-Time Drive Signals.Xiaojing Gao, Mengfan Cheng & Hanping Hu - 2016 - Complexity 21 (5):43-51.
  17. Adaptive-Impulsive Function Projective Synchronization for a Class of Time-Delay Chaotic Systems.Song Zheng - 2016 - Complexity 21 (2):333-341.
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  18. Fractional Modeling and Control of a Complex Nonlinear Energy Supply-Demand System.Mohammad Pourmahmood Aghababa - 2015 - Complexity 20 (6):74-86.
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  19. In What Sense is the Kolmogorov-Sinai Entropy a Measure for Chaotic Behaviour?--Bridging the Gap Between Dynamical Systems Theory and Communication Theory.Roman Frigg - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (3):411-434.
    On an influential account, chaos is explained in terms of random behaviour; and random behaviour in turn is explained in terms of having positive Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy (KSE). Though intuitively plausible, the association of the KSE with random behaviour needs justification since the definition of the KSE does not make reference to any notion that is connected to randomness. I provide this justification for the case of Hamiltonian systems by proving that the KSE is equivalent to a generalized version of Shannon's (...)
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  20. Identifying Complex Causal Dependencies in Configurational Data with Coincidence Analysis.Michael Baumgartner & Alrik Thiem - 2015 - R Journal 7 (1):176-184.
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  21. Worlds of Flow: A History of Hydrodynamics From the Bernoullis to Prandtl.Olivier Darrigol - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
    The first of its kind, this book is an in-depth history of hydrodynamics from its eighteenth-century foundations to its first major successes in twentieth-century hydraulics and aeronautics. It documents the foundational role of fluid mechanics in developing a new mathematical physics. It gives full and clear accounts of the conceptual breakthroughs of physicists and engineers who tried to meet challenges in the practical worlds of hydraulics, navigation, blood circulation, meteorology, and aeronautics, and it shows how hydrodynamics at last began to (...)
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  22. Between Rigor and Reality: Many-Body Models in Condensed Matter Physics.Axel Gelfert - 2015 - In Brigitte Falkenburg & Margaret Morrison (eds.), Why More Is Different: Philosophical Issues in Condensed Matter Physics and Complex Systems. Springer. pp. 201-226.
    The present paper focuses on a particular class of models intended to describe and explain the physical behaviour of systems that consist of a large number of interacting particles. Such many-body models are characterized by a specific Hamiltonian (energy operator) and are frequently employed in condensed matter physics in order to account for such phenomena as magnetism, superconductivity, and other phase transitions. Because of the dual role of many-body models as models of physical sys-tems (with specific physical phenomena as their (...)
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  23. Toward 'Complexics' as a Transdiscipline.Albert Bastardas I. Boada - unknown
    The proposed transdisciplinary field of ‘complexics’ would bring together allcontemporary efforts in any specific disciplines or by any researchersspecifically devoted to constructing tools, procedures, models and conceptsintended for transversal application that are aimed at understanding andexplaining the most interwoven and dynamic phenomena of reality. Our aimneeds to be, as Morin says, not “to reduce complexity to simplicity, [but] totranslate complexity into theory”.New tools for the conception, apprehension and treatment of the data ofexperience will need to be devised to complement existing (...)
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  24. Continuability in Time of Smooth Solutions of Strong-Nonlinear Nondiagonal Parabolic Systems.Arina Arkhipova - 2002 - Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 1 (1):153-167.
    A class of quasilinear parabolic systems with quadratic nonlinearities in the gradient is considered. It is assumed that the elliptic operator of a system has variational structure. In the multidimensional case, the behavior of solutions of the Cauchy-Dirichlet problem smooth on a time interval $[0,T)$ is studied. Smooth extendibility of the solution up to $t=T$ is proved, provided that “normilized local energies” of the solution are uniformly bounded on $[0,T)$. For the case where $[0,T)$ determines the maximal interval of existence (...)
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  25. Periodic Orbits Close to Elliptic Tori and Applications to the Three-Body Problem.Massimiliano Berti, Luca Biasco & Enrico Valdinoci - 2004 - Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 3 (1):87-138.
    We prove, under suitable non-resonance and non-degeneracy “twist” conditions, a Birkhoff-Lewis type result showing the existence of infinitely many periodic solutions, with larger and larger minimal period, accumulating onto elliptic invariant tori. We prove the applicability of this result to the spatial planetary three-body problem in the small eccentricity-inclination regime. Furthermore, we find other periodic orbits under some restrictions on the period and the masses of the “planets”. The proofs are based on averaging theory, KAM theory and variational methods.
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  26. Periodic Solutions of Forced Kirchhoff Equations.Pietro Baldi - 2009 - Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 8 (1):117-141.
  27. Nonlinear Potentials, Local Solutions to Elliptic Equations and Rearrangements.Andrea Cianchi - 2011 - Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 10 (2):335-361.
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  28. Sharp Liouville Results for Fully Nonlinear Equations with Power-Growth Nonlinearities.Scott N. Armstrong & Boyan Sirakov - 2011 - Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 10 (3):711-728.
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  29. On the Existence of Steady Periodic Capillary-Gravity Stratified Water Waves.David Henry & Bogan-Vasile Matioc - 2013 - Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 12 (4):955-974.
  30. Existence of Strong Solutions for Quasi-Static Evolution in Brittle Fracture.Jean-François Babadjian & Alessandro Giacomini - 2014 - Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 13 (4):925-974.
    This paper is devoted to prove the existence of strong solutions for a brittle fracture model of quasi-static crack propagation in the two dimensional antiplane setting. As usual, the time continuous evolution is obtained as the limit of a discrete in time evolution by letting the time step tend to zero. The analysis rests on a density lower bound estimate for quasi-minimizers of Mumford-Shah type functionals, under a homogeneous Dirichlet boundary condition on a part of the boundary. In contrast with (...)
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  31. Chaos and Order the Complex Structure of Living Systems.Friedrich Cramer - 1993
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  32. The Lure of Modern Science Fractal Thinking.Bruce J. West & William D. Deering - 1995
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  33. Conceptualizing Social Systems: A Critical Argument for the Nonlinear Perspective.Robert J. Brodnick - 2000 - Dissertation, Temple University
    For thousands of years societies, cultures, and organizations framed their worlds through a variety of lenses that allowed them to peer into nature and into themselves. Over time these lenses changed. The western world embraced a scientific and linear paradigm. Recently, fresh approaches have arisen through lenses called the new sciences. Discoveries are extending beyond their birthplaces in the physical and biological sciences to impact organizational science and practice. This dissertation compares two perspectives affecting social systems---linear and nonlinear. To give (...)
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  34. Leadership and the New Science.Margaret J. Wheatley - 1993 - Performance Resources.
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  35. Complexity and Diversity.E. R. Nakamura & Complexity and Diversity Workshop - 1997
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  36. Chaotic Logic Language, Thought, and Reality From the Perspective of Complex Systems Science.Ben Goertzel - 1994
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  37. The Age of Bifurcation Understanding the Changing World.Ervin Laszlo - 1991
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  38. Emergence, Complexity and Reductionism.Tushar Kanti Sarkar - 1979 - Dissertation, University of Waterloo (Canada)
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  39. The Case of Brownian Motion: A Note on Bachelier's Contribution.Robert W. Dimand - 1993 - British Journal for the History of Science 26 (2):233-234.
  40. Essays and Commentaries-Basins of Attraction in Cellular Automata.Andrew Wuensche - 2000 - Complexity 5 (6):19-25.
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  41. On Agency, Emergence and Organization.Philip Clayton & Stuart A. Kauffman - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):501-521.
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  42. Densities and Entropies in Cellular Automata.Pierre Guillon & Charalampos Zinoviadis - 2012 - In S. Barry Cooper (ed.), How the World Computes. pp. 253--263.
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  43. Syntactic Autonomy, Cellular Automata, and RNA Editing: Or Why Self-Organization Needs Symbols to Evolve and How It Might Evolve Them.Luis M. Rocha - 2000 - In Jerry L. R. Chandler & Gertrudis van de Vijver (eds.), Closure: Emergent Organizations and Their Dynamics. New York Academy of Sciences. pp. 901.
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  44. Stationary and Time-Dependent Spatial Patterns in a Chemical System.P. de Kepper, B. Rudovics, Jj Perraud & E. Dulos - 1995 - In R. J. Russell, N. Murphy & A. R. Peacocke (eds.), Chaos and Complexity. Vatican Observatory Publications.
  45. Searching for Complex CA Rules with GAs.Eleonora Bilotta, Antonio Lafusa & Pietro Pantano - 2003 - Complexity 8 (3):56-67.
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  46. On the Challenge of Developing a Formal Mathematical Theory for Establishing Emergence in Complex Systems.Daniel Solow - 2000 - Complexity 6 (1):49-52.
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  47. Organization or Religious Life in Odessos.Zlatozara Gočeva - 1996 - Kernos 9:121-127.
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  48. Emergence and Community: The Story of Three Complex Adaptive Entities.Richard W. Stackman, Linda S. Henderson & Deborah P. Bloch - 2006 - Emergence: Complexity and Organization 8 (3).
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  49. Classification of Emergence and its Relation to Self‐Organization.Julianne D. Halley & David A. Winkler - 2008 - Complexity 13 (5):10-15.
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  50. The Poetics of Purpose.Victoria N. Alexander - 2009 - Biosemiotics 2 (1):77-100.
    Hackles have been raised in biosemiotic circles by T. L. Short’s assertion that semiosis, as defined by Peirce, entails “acting for purposes” and therefore is not found below the level of the organism (2007a:174–177). This paper examines Short’s teleology and theory of purposeful behavior and offers a remedy to the disagreement. Remediation becomes possible when the issue is reframed in the terms of the complexity sciences, which allows intentionality to be understood as the interplay between local and global aspects of (...)
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