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Natural ComplexityA Modeling Handbook$
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Paul Charbonneau

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691176840

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691176840.001.0001

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Introduction: What Is Complexity?

Introduction: What Is Complexity?

(p.1) 1 Introduction: What Is Complexity?
Natural Complexity

Paul Charbonneau

Princeton University Press

This book investigates complex systems that are idealizations of naturally occurring phenomena characterized by the autonomous generation of structures and patterns at macroscopic scales. It provides material and guidance to allow the reader to learn about complexity through hands-on experimentation with complex systems with the aid of computer programs. Each chapter thus presents a simple computational model of natural complex phenomena ranging from avalanches and earthquakes to solar flares, epidemics, and ant colonies. This introductory chapter explains what complexity is, with emphasis on the fact that defining it is not a simple endeavor, and that it is not the same as randomness or chaos. It also shows that open dissipative systems are complex and clarifies what natural complexity means. Finally, it describes the computer programs listed in this book and suggests materials for further reading about complexity.

Keywords:   complexity, complex system, computer program, avalanches, earthquakes, solar flares, randomness, chaos, open dissipative system, natural complexity

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