World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Complex system

Article Id: WHEBN0000037438
Reproduction Date:

Title: Complex system  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Systems science, Complex systems, WikiProject Wikislice/Mathematics, Systems psychology, Design-based research
Collection: Complex Dynamics, Complex Systems Theory, Systems
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Complex system

This article largely discusses complex systems as a subject of mathematics and the attempts to emulate physical complex systems with emergent properties. For other scientific and professional disciplines addressing complexity in their fields see the complex systems article and references.

A complex system is a damped, driven system (for example, a harmonic oscillator) whose total energy exceeds the threshold for it to perform according to classical mechanics but does not reach the threshold for the system to exhibit properties according to chaos theory.


  • History 1
  • Types of complex systems 2
    • Chaotic systems 2.1
    • Complex adaptive systems 2.2
    • Nonlinear system 2.3
  • Topics on complex systems 3
    • Features of complex systems 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Although it is arguable that humans have been studying complex systems for thousands of years, the modern scientific study of complex systems is relatively young in comparison to conventional fields of science with simple system assumptions, such as physics and chemistry. The history of the scientific study of these systems follows several different research trends.

In the area of mathematics, arguably the largest contribution to the study of complex systems was the discovery of chaos in deterministic systems, a feature of certain dynamical systems that is strongly related to nonlinearity.[1] The study of neural networks was also integral in advancing the mathematics needed to study complex systems.

The notion of nonequilibrium thermodynamics, including that pioneered by chemist and Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine in his study of dissipative structures.

Types of complex systems

Chaotic systems

For a dynamical system to be classified as chaotic, it must have the following properties:[2]

Assign z to z2 minus the conjugate of z, plus the original value of the pixel for each pixel, then count how many cycles it took when the absolute value of z exceeds two; inversion (borders are inner set), so that you can see that it threatens to fail that third condition, even if it meets condition two.
  1. it must be sensitive to initial conditions,
  2. it must be topologically mixing, and
  3. its periodic orbits must be dense.

Sensitivity to initial conditions means that each point in such a system is arbitrarily closely approximated by other points with significantly different future trajectories. Thus, an arbitrarily small perturbation of the current trajectory may lead to significantly different future behavior.

Complex adaptive systems

Complex adaptive systems (CAS) are special cases of complex systems. They are complex in that they are diverse and made up of multiple interconnected elements and adaptive in that they have the capacity to change and learn from experience. Examples of complex adaptive systems include the stock market, social insect and ant colonies, the biosphere and the ecosystem, the brain and the immune system, the cell and the developing embryo, manufacturing businesses and any human social group-based endeavor in a cultural and social system such as political parties or communities. This includes some large-scale online systems, such as collaborative tagging or social bookmarking systems.

Nonlinear system

The behavior of nonlinear systems is not subject to the principle of superposition while that of linear systems is subject to superposition. Thus, a complex nonlinear system is one whose behavior can't be expressed as a sum of the behaviors of its parts (or of their multiples).

Topics on complex systems

Features of complex systems

Complex systems may have the following features:

Cascading Failures
Due to the strong coupling between components in complex systems, a failure in one or more components can lead to cascading failures which may have catastrophic consequences on the functioning of the system.[3]
Complex systems may be open
Complex systems are usually open systems — that is, they exist in a thermodynamic gradient and dissipate energy. In other words, complex systems are frequently far from energetic equilibrium: but despite this flux, there may be pattern stability, see synergetics.
Complex systems may have a memory
The history of a complex system may be important. Because complex systems are dynamical systems they change over time, and prior states may have an influence on present states. More formally, complex systems often exhibit hysteresis.
Complex systems may be nested
The components of a complex system may themselves be complex systems. For example, an people, which are made up of cells - all of which are complex systems.
Dynamic network of multiplicity
As well as coupling rules, the dynamic network of a complex system is important. Small-world or scale-free networks[4][5][6] which have many local interactions and a smaller number of inter-area connections are often employed. Natural complex systems often exhibit such topologies. In the human cortex for example, we see dense local connectivity and a few very long axon projections between regions inside the cortex and to other brain regions.
May produce emergent phenomena
Complex systems may exhibit behaviors that are emergent, which is to say that while the results may be sufficiently determined by the activity of the systems' basic constituents, they may have properties that can only be studied at a higher level. For example, the termites in a mound have physiology, biochemistry and biological development that are at one level of analysis, but their social behavior and mound building is a property that emerges from the collection of termites and needs to be analysed at a different level.
Relationships are non-linear
In practical terms, this means a small perturbation may cause a large effect (see butterfly effect), a proportional effect, or even no effect at all. In linear systems, effect is always directly proportional to cause. See nonlinearity.
Relationships contain feedback loops
Both negative (damping) and positive (amplifying) feedback are always found in complex systems. The effects of an element's behaviour are fed back to in such a way that the element itself is altered.

See also


  1. ^ History of Complex Systems
  2. ^ Hasselblatt, Boris; Anatole Katok (2003). A First Course in Dynamics: With a Panorama of Recent Developments. Cambridge University Press.  
  3. ^ S. V. Buldyrev, R. Parshani, G. Paul, H. E. Stanley,  
  4. ^ A. L. Barab´asi, R. Albert (2002). "Statistical mechanics of complex networks". Rev. Mod. Phys 74: 47–94.  
  5. ^ M. Newman (2010). Networks: An Introduction. Oxford University Press.  
  6. ^ Reuven Cohen,  

Further reading

  • Chu, Dominique (2011). Complexity: Against Systems. Theory in Biosciences, Springer Verlag. [1]
  • Rocha, Luis M. (1999). "Complex Systems Modeling: Using Metaphors From Nature in Simulation and Scientific Models". BITS: Computer and Communications News. Computing, Information, and Communications Division. Los Alamos National Laboratory. November 1999
  • World Scientific and Imperial College Press.
  • James S. Kim, Hyper Emotional Society, Version 9. Knol. 2009 Nov 25.
  • Alfred Hübler, Cory Stephenson, Dave Lyon, Ryan Swindeman (2011). Fabrication and programming of large physically evolving networks Complexity, 16(5), pp. 7–8
  • De Toni, Alberto and Comello, Luca (2011). Journey into Complexity. Udine: Lulu.  

External links

  • Introduction to complex systems-short course by Shlomo Havlin
  • Complex systems in scholarpedia.
  • (European) Complex Systems Society
  • (Australian) Complex systems research network.
  • Complex Systems Modeling based on Luis M. Rocha, 1999.
  • CRM Complex systems research group
  • The Center for Complex Systems Research, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • FuturICT - Exploring and Managing our Future
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.