Epistemological Implications

21. Dynamics of Complex Systems

  • Complex systems are made up of
    • Elements (and their number)
    • Interactions (and their strength)
    • Formation/Operation (and their time scales)
    • Diversity/Variability (changes that take place in the system)
    • Environment (and its demands)
    • Activity(ies) (and its[their] objective[s])
  • Emergence studies how aspects of these features come to interact with each other as they do in particular contexts and under particular conditions.
  • Complexity describes (mathematically) the density of the relationships among the aspects.


Computational resources and approaches are critical to understanding the dynamics of complex systems and this approach folds back as a way to explain how computational communication systems work in the world. In order to do this work, one must:

  • Not take it apart. Since interactions between parts of a complex system are essential to understanding its behavior, looking at parts by themselves is not sufficient. It is necessary to look at parts in the context of the whole. Similarly, a complex system interacts with its environment, and this environmental influence is important in describing the behavior of the system.
  • Not assume smoothness. Chaotic systems are a good example: simple linear equations don't predict them accurately.
  • Not assume that only a few parameters are important.The behavior of complex systems depends on many independent pieces of information. The factors required for understanding are too complex for human thought to keep track of on its own, so computer simulations keep track of many parameters and may be used in the study of dynamical processes.

Lean software development and general systems

Agile software development and general systems

  • Notice that some principles (in each) support broad systems analysis approaches; other aspects violate them.

  • From this perspective, Digital Visualization works as as a vital new conceptual tool.
    • Digital introduces new attention structures.
    • Our attention is drawn to
      • Dynamic stability
      • Chaos Boundary conditions
      • The liminal (in gray areas)
      • the fact that life is information which creates new meanings.
      • Digital promoting self-consciousness about oscillation.

Hawking, a personal journey (12:00) (the new communication system)

Concept 21 Analysis article:

Want to learn more?

Center for the Study of Complex Systems (Univ. of MI)
The Dynamics of Complex Systems, Yaneer Bar-Yam

(A) Text Reading Analyses

(B) Concept Analyses

(C) Extra Credit (D) Grading
Special Considerations Concepts Schedule

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© Ed Lamoureux, 2023