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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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(p.80) 4 Percolation
Natural Complexity

Paul Charbonneau

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores a lattice-based system where complex structures can arise from pure randomness: percolation, typically described as the passage of liquid through a porous or granular medium. In its more abstract form, percolation is an exemplar of criticality, a concept in statistical physics related to phase transitions. A classic example of criticality is liquid water boiling into water vapor, or freezing into ice. The chapter first provides an overview of percolation in one and two dimensions before discussing the use of a tagging algorithm for identifying and sizing clusters. It then considers fractal clusters on a lattice at the percolation threshold, scale invariance of power-law behavior, and critical behavior of natural systems. The chapter includes exercises and further computational explorations, along with a suggested list of materials for further reading.

Keywords:   complex structure, percolation, criticality, phase transition, tagging algorithm, clusters, fractal clusters, percolation threshold, scale invariance, power-law

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