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Complexity

Complexity Articles & Links

Complexity theory attempts to understand some of the surprising and paradoxical consequences which arise when complex systems are operating. Organisations are complex systems and complexity theory offers the possibility of helping us understand organisational change and culture rather better than we do at present.

Complexity theory isn't really a single theory but a variety of developing approaches to complex systems. It is sometimes compared to, and confused with, 'chaos theory' - more correctly described as a branch of dynamics. Put very simplistically, chaos theory is concerned with complicated results of simple interactions while complexity theory looks at the simple results of complicated interactions.

Below I've given some links to good sites and mail lists, including a few articles which offer some interesting perspectives.

Articles

Culture & Complexity by Richard Seel gives an introduction to some of the complexity and organisational ideas underpinning New Paradigm Consulting. The Introduction to Complexity & OD is an edited version of some lecture notes originally written to accompany a lecture at South Bank University. The notes were not written to stand alone but they do have the advantage of a large annotated bibliography (now on a separate page) and links to some key web sites and discussion groups relating to complexity (below). There's also  Emergence in Organisations (based on an abstract which was accepted for the ECHO IV conference, but in the end not presented) .

Links & Mail Lists

There are many sites which include resources for those who would like to know more about the research and developments which underpin our way of working. We offer just a few here - but many of these contain further links if you wish to pursue your interests further.

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Chaos

A good FAQ on chaos can be found at the site of the Nonlinear Science Newsgroup.

Find out more at the Teaching Chaos site.

Or discover The Chaos Experience.

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Complexity - General

Yaneer Bar Yam is compiling an Introduction to complexity which is a good starting point.

Brint links to loads of complexity and systems sites.

The Complexity & Artificial Life Resources site also has a lot of resources & links.

The Complexity & Management Centre at Hertford University offers stuff from Ralph Stacey's perspective.

The Plexus Institute is especially concerned with the application of complexity theory in health & community.

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Simulations, Cellular Automata & Artificial Life

The IT Resource site has lots of resources pertaining to Artificial Life and other aspects of complexity.

The Alife site at Santa Fe has lots of links and resources about artificial life and cellular automata.

Scott Robert Ladd’s site has lots of simulations—boids, virtual ants, etc.

MIT offers an interactive tutorial on emergence & cellular automata.

Craig Reynolds’ site offers some articles and lots of links to other flocking and swarming sites.

Rudy Rucker has lots of simulations, including cellab and the chaos suite.

John Conway's Game of Life is the best-known cellular automaton. This site has a number of implementations.

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Catastrophe Theory

The Catastrophe Teacher

Lecture notes/diagrams by E.C. Zeeman

Mathematical explanations of Chaos & Catastrophes - also by Christopher Zeeman.

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Institutions & Societies

The Santa Fe Institute is key for much of current complexity research. Contains links to hundreds of working papers, most of them highly technical.

The New England Complexity Science Institute has some good illustrations of complex system concepts.

The Hertford Complexity & Management Centre site contains a number of articles by Ralph Stacey and his associates.

The Complex Adaptive Systems Research Group at the University of Newcastle, Australia takes a philosophical approach towards exploring aspects of complexity.

Human Strategies in Complexity also has a philosophical bent. This collaboration between a number of Universities in Vienna, Kassel, Kiev and Moscow has a number of articles on aspects of self-organisation.

Interjournal is a web-based complexity journal covering all aspects of complex systems.

The Autopoesis Tutorial may help if you want to know more about Maturana & Varela's work.

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Individual sites

Jim Crutchfield has published widely and has an interest in emergence and emergent computation.

Chris Langton is one of the pioneers of the cellular automaton approach to complexity.

Mike Lissack did his doctorate at Henley on complexity and metaphors. He is also the editor of Emergence.

If Price is interested in systems thinking and memes.

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Mail lists

Complex-M — discussions about possible links between complexity and management. Subscribe via http://home.ease.lsoft.com/scripts/wa.exe?SUBED1=complex-m

CHAOPSYC— the mailing list of the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences. Details at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/cogsci/chaos/cspls.html

New England Complex Systems Institute  runs two mail lists:

Complex-science considers all aspects of complexity science. Send an e-mail with the word "subscribe" to complex-science-on@necsi.org

Complex-community looks at the wider implications of complexity approaches (though it isn't very active). Subscribe by e-mail to complex-community-on@necsi.org

The Complexity Digest is an independent e-mail bulletin published by Dean LeBaron and edited by Gottfried J. Mayer. For individual free e-mail subscriptions send requests to: subscriptions@comdig.org.

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Systems thinking

Peter Senge and his colleagues at MIT have written a lot about systems thinking.
Systems Dynamics is a particular approach to systems thinking. The Systems Dynamics Society web site offers this introduction:
System dynamics is a computer-aided approach to policy analysis and design. With origins in servomechanisms engineering and management, the approach uses a perspective based on information feedback and mutual or recursive causality to understand the dynamics of complex physical, biological, and social systems.
The Society's site also has information on how to order copies of the 'Beer Game', simulation which helps people understand something of the nature of systems.
GŁnther Ossimitz's System Dynamics / Systems Thinking Mega Link List has lots of links to systems resources.

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Send mail to richard@new-paradigm.co.uk   with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: 12th January 2008
ics Society web site offers this introduction:
System dynamics is a computer-aided approach to policy analysis and design. With origins in servomechanisms engineering and management, the approach uses a perspective based on information feedback and mutual or recursive causality to understand the dynamics of complex physical, biological, and social systems.
The Society's site also has information on how to order copies of the 'Beer Game', simulation which helps people understand something of the nature of systems.
GŁnther Ossimitz's System Dynamics / Systems Thinking Mega Link List has lots of links to systems resources.

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