George A. Cowan is Founding President Emeritus of the Santa Fe Institute and chaired the program committee for the meeting whose proceedings resulted in the book, Complexity. He is Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and directs research in the physical and biological sciences at the Santa Fe Institute. David Pines is research professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has made pioneering contributions to an understanding of many-body problems in condensed matter and nuclear physics, and to theoretical astrophysics. Editor of Perseus’ Frontiers in Physics series and former editor of American Physical Society’s Reviews of Modern Physics, Dr. Pines is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a foreign member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Pines has received a number of awards, including the Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal for Contributions to Many-Body Theory; the P.A.M. Dirac Silver Medal for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics; and the Friemann Prize in Condensed Matter Physics. David Meltzer is a visiting assistant professor of physics at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. He received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook in 1985.
Complexityby George A. Cowan, David Pines, David Meltzer
The terms complexity, complex adaptive systems, and sciences of complexity are found often in recent scientific literature, reflecting the remarkable growth in collaborative academic research focused on complexity from the origin and dynamics of organisms to the largest social and political organizations. One of the great challenges in this field of research is to
The terms complexity, complex adaptive systems, and sciences of complexity are found often in recent scientific literature, reflecting the remarkable growth in collaborative academic research focused on complexity from the origin and dynamics of organisms to the largest social and political organizations. One of the great challenges in this field of research is to discover which features are essential and shared by all of the seemingly disparate systems that are described as complex. Is there sufficient synthesis to suggest the possibility of an overarching science of complexity? This report describes current views on this subject held by various eminent scholars associated with the Santa Fe Institute.The physical sciences have traditionally been concerned with "simple” systems whose dynamics can be described in mathematical terms with precision and certainty. In contrast, the biological and social sciences are inevitably concerned with self-organized or social "complex” systems whose detailed behaviors appear to be unpredictable. The two categories differ greatly in size and diversity, prompting the late mathematician Stanislaus Ulam to remark that research on complex systems might be compared to the study of non-elephants. Nevertheless, certain integrative themes have begun to emerge.Rising activity in this field of research runs completely counter to the trend toward increasing fragmentation and specialization in the sciences. It has stimulated a resurgence of interest in a broad synthesis involving mathematics, computational science, physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, and the social sciences. The growth of effort in this very extended field has been greatly stimulated by the development of new computational tools that are capable of dealing with vast, interrelated databases. Many of the participants in complexity research feel that it is now time to reintegrate the fragmented interests of much of the academic community. The reader is encouraged to consider whether such views are sparking a historic renaissance of scholarship or represent a passing scientific diversion.
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