We are a loosely coupled group of scientists and software engineers interested in complex (adaptive) systems. We share a common interest in their behavior, especially in the phenomenon of emergence and the organization and dynamics of living systems. According to the mottos of the famous universities Berkeley, Harvard, Oxford and Princeton, we try to bring light into complex problems – “Let there be light” (Fiat lux) the Berkeley motto – and use the insights, wisdom and power of the group to achieve this goal – in a sociological sense, god simply means group, i.e. if you replace group by god, that’s the Oxford motto “The Lord is my Light” (“Dominus Illuminatio Mea”) and the Princeton motto “Under God’s power she flourishes” (“Dei sub numine viget”).
Above all, like every other scientist, we seek to find the truth (latin “veritas”, the Harvard motto). That’s what makes science fun, isn’t it? According to the American physicist Richard Feynman, it is the pleasure of finding things out which makes science worthwhile. It is the reason we do science: the joy that comes from learning something that we don’t knew before – sometimes even something which nobody knew before.
Already the ancient Romans have written logs and diaries. The Meditations from Marcus Aurelius read a bit like a blog, each paragraph is like an independent post. Although the text of this “ancient blog” is nearly 2000 years old, it is still worth reading. Will someone read the texts from our blogs and books in 2000 years? Herodotus said: “I write in the hope of thereby preserving from decay the remembrance of what has been done”. Is there a better reason to write a book, log or blog? The purpose of this blog is to preserve and publish some of our thoughts about complex systems. We, the members of the group, hope to bring some light into Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and their basic principles. A CAS consists typically of a large number of mutually interacting and interwoven parts. Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) are closely related, they describe the same systems. The name CAS is associated with high-level complex phenomena and intricated structures of a complex system, the name MAS is associated with the low-level components and elements. Examples for natural CAS are neural and social networks, nervous and immune systems, economies and ecologies,.. John H. Holland writes about them:
These are systems that have multiple levels of co-evolution, like ecosystems, which through their complex interactions, become more than the sum of their parts [...] To be able to capture the essence of these complex adaptive systems is to be able to predict their most powerful abilities [...] The complex systems that I was interested in were those whose parts not only interacted to create novel properties, but also co-evolved and adapted new rules to weather the fluctuations in their environment. I called them ‘complex adaptive systems’ or CAS
Among the questions we examine are for example the questions about the emergence and appearance of complexity or about the organization of complex systems: Why is the organization and dynamics of living systems so different from those of ‘engineered’ ones – and why are their systemic properties so much more interesting? Why isn’t the universe just a turbulent mess of particles tumbling around each other? Why did the big bang not form a simple gas of particles, or condense into one big crystal? How can the universe start with a big explosion and end up with life, history, and culture? What will be the next major integrative Level of Evolution ? Is it possible to create a theory of CAS? Stephen Wolfram says in this article about Complex Systems Theory:
Complex systems theory cuts across the boundaries between conventional scientific disciplines. It makes use of ideas, methods and examples from many disparate fields. And its results should be widely applicable to a great variety of scientific and engineering problems.
So this blog is about discussions of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and related topics: agent-based models, complex systems, self-organization, emergence and emergent behavior. In short, nearly all interesting things with some cultural or scientific connection: everything which contains interesting new informations for your neurons. Start reading now, and join us if you like.