Disentangling complexity from randomness and chaos

Lena Zuchowski
University of Bristol
During the last ten years complexity research has received a large amount of attention by both the scientific community and the general public. One of the greatest draws of complexity as a field of research is the possibility of recognizing it in virtually every branch of science and he social sciences. However, despite the labelling of an increasingly large number of models and natural systems as ‘complex', the definition of the term has remained vague. In particular, attempts at such a definition have failed to fully emancipate the notion of a complex system from those of a stochastically random and deterministically chaotic one. In this paper we will try to disentangle the definition of complexity from randomness and chaos. We will also examine the power of some existing entropy and complexity measures to distinguish a complex system from the other two. Our analysis indicates that the affinity of complexity to chaos has been overstated in the existing literature and that a careful distinction between phenomenological and dynamical complexity will be needed to achieve a successful definition.
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