Sei sulla pagina 1di 343
FOUNDATIONS OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS
FOUNDATIONS OF
COMPLEX SYSTEMS
Nonlinear Dynamics, StatisticalPhysics, Information and Prediction
Nonlinear Dynamics, StatisticalPhysics, Information
and Prediction

ThisThis pagepage intentionallyintentionally leftleft blankblank

FOUNDATIONS OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS Nonlinear Dynamics, Statistical Physics, Information and Prediction Gregoire Nicolis

FOUNDATIONS OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS

FOUNDATIONS OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS Nonlinear Dynamics, Statistical Physics, Information and Prediction Gregoire Nicolis
Nonlinear Dynamics, Statistical Physics, Information and Prediction
Nonlinear Dynamics, Statistical Physics, Information
and Prediction
Gregoire Nicolis
Gregoire Nicolis
University of Brussels,Belgium
University of Brussels,Belgium
Catherine Nicolis
Catherine Nicolis
Royal MeteorologicalInstitute of Belgium, Belgium
Royal MeteorologicalInstitute of Belgium, Belgium
vp World Scientific
vp World Scientific
NEW JERSEY - LONDON * SINGAPORE * BElJlNG SHANGHAI * HONG KONG * TAIPEI *
NEW JERSEY - LONDON * SINGAPORE * BElJlNG
SHANGHAI
* HONG KONG * TAIPEI
* CHENNAI

Published by

World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

5 Toh Tuck Link, Singapore 596224

USA office: 27 Warren Street, Suite 401-402, Hackensack, NJ 07601

UK office: 57 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9HE

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

FOUNDATIONS OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS Nonlinear Dynamics, Statistical Physics, Information and Prediction

Copyright © 2007 by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission from the Publisher.

For photocopying of material in this volume, please pay a copying fee through the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. In this case permission to photocopy is not required from the publisher.

ISBN-13 978-981-270-043-8 ISBN-10 981-270-043-9

Printed in Singapore.

To Helen, Stamatis and little Katy

ThisThis pagepage intentionallyintentionally leftleft blankblank

Preface

Complexity became a major scientific field in its own right as recently as 15 years ago, and since then it has modified considerably the scientific land- scape through thousands of high-impact publications as well as through the creation of specialized journals, Institutes, learned societies and University chairs devoted specifically to it. It constitutes today a paradigm for ap- proaching a large body of phenomena of concern at the crossroads of physical, engineering, environmental, life and human sciences from a unifying point of view. Nonlinear science and statistical physics had been addressing for some time phenomena of this kind: self-organization in nonequilibrium systems, glassy materials, pattern formation, deterministic chaos are landmarks, wit- nessing the success they have achieved in explaining how unexpected struc- tures and events can be generated from the laws of nature in systems involv- ing interacting subunits when appropriate conditions are satisfied - an issue closely related to the problematics of complexity. And yet, on the one side, for quite some time these attempts were progressing in rather disconnected ways following their own momentum and success; and on the other side, they were remaining confined to a large extent within a community of strong background in physical and mathematical science, and did not incorporate to a sufficient degree insights from the practitioner confronted with naturally occurring systems where issues eliciting the idea of complexity show up in a most pressing way. Last but not least, there was a lack of insight and of illustrative power of just what are the minimal ingredients for observing the sort of behaviors that would qualify as “complex”. A first breakthrough that contributed significantly to the birth of com- plexity research occurred in the late 1980’s - early 1990’s. It arose from the cross-fertilization of ideas and tools from nonlinear science, statistical physics and numerical simulation, the latter being a direct offspring of the increasing availability of computers. By bringing chaos and irreversibility together it showed that deterministic and probabilistic views, causality and chance, sta- bility and evolution were different facets of a same reality when addressing

vii

viii

Preface

certain classes of systems. It also provided insights on the relative roles of the number of elements involved in the process and the nature of the underlying dynamics. Paul Anderson’s well-known aphorism, “more is different”, that contributed to the awareness of the scientific community on the relevance of complexity, is here complemented in a most interesting way. The second breakthrough presiding in the birth of complexity coincides with the increasing input of fields outside the strict realm of physical science. The intrusion of concepts that were till then not part of the vocabulary of fun- damental science forced a reassessment of ideas and practices. Predictability, in connection with the increasing concern about the evolution of the atmo- sphere, climate and financial activities; algorithms, information, symbols, networks, optimization in connection with life sciences, theoretical informat- ics, computer science, engineering and management; adaptive behavior and cognitive processes in connection with brain research, ethology and social sciences are some characteristic examples. Finally, time going on, it became clear that generic aspects of the complex behaviors observed across a wide spectrum of fields could be captured by minimal models governed by simple local rules. Some of them gave rise in their computer implementation to attractive visualizations and deep insights, from Monte Carlo simulations to cellular automata and multi-agent systems. These developments provided the tools and paved the way to an under- standing, both qualitative and quantitative, of the complex systems encoun- tered in nature, technology and everyday experience. In parallel, natural complexity acted as a source of inspiration generating progress at the funda- mental level. Spontaneously, in a very short time interval complexity became in this way a natural reference point for all sorts of communities and prob- lems. Inevitably, in parallel with the substantial progress achieved ambiguous statements and claims were also formulated related in one way or the other to the diversity of backgrounds of the actors involved and their perceptions as to the relative roles of hard facts, mechanisms, analogies and metaphors. As a result complexity research is today both one of the most active and fastest growing fields of science and a forum for the exchange of sometimes conflicting ideas and views cutting across scientific disciplines. In this book the foundations of complex systems are outlined. The vision conveyed is that of complexity as a part of fundamental science, in which the insights provided by its cross-fertilization with other disciplines are in- corporated. What is more, we argue that by virtue of this unique blending complexity ranks among the most relevant parts of fundamental science as it addresses phenomena that unfold on our own scale, phenomena in the course of which the object and the observer are co-evolving. A unifying presentation of the concepts and tools needed to analyze, to model and to predict com-

Preface

ix

plex systems is laid down and links between key concepts such as emergence, irreversibility, evolution, randomness and information are established in the light of the complexity paradigm. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary dimen- sion of complexity research is brought out through representative examples. Throughout the presentation emphasis is placed on the need for a multi- level approach to complex systems integrating deterministic and probabilis- tic views, structure and dynamics, microscopic, mesoscopic and macroscopic level descriptions. The book is addressed primarily to graduate level students and to re- searchers in physics, mathematics and computer science, engineering, envi- ronmental and life sciences, economics and sociology. It can constitute the material of a graduate-level course and we also hope that, outside the aca- demic community, professionals interested in interdisciplinary issues will find some interest in its reading. The choice of material, the style and the cov- erage of the items reflect our concern to do justice to the multiple facets of complexity. There can be no “soft” approach to complexity: observing, monitoring, analyzing, modeling, predicting and controlling complex systems can only be achieved through the time-honored approach provided by “hard” science. The novelty brought by complex systems is that in this endeavor the goals are reassessed and the ways to achieve them are reinvented in a most unexpected way as compared to classical approaches. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the principal manifestations of com- plexity. Unifying concepts such as instability, sensitivity, bifurcation, emer- gence, self-organization, chaos, predictability, evolution and selection are sorted out in view of later developments and the need for a bottom-up ap- proach to complexity is emphasized. In Chapter 2 the basis of a deterministic approach to the principal behaviors characteristic of the phenomenology of complex systems at different levels of description is provided, using the for- malism of nonlinear dynamical systems. The fundamental mechanism under- lying emergence is identified. At the same time the limitations of a universal description of complex systems within the framework of a deterministic ap- proach are revealed and the “open future” character of their evolution is highlighted. Some prototypical ways to model complexity in physical science and beyond are also discussed, with emphasis on the role of the coupling between constituting elements. In Chapter 3 an analysis incorporating the probabilistic dimension of complex systems is carried out. It leads to some novel ways to characterize complex systems, allows one to recover universal trends in their evolution and brings out the limitations of the determinis- tic description. These developments provide the background for different ways to simulate complex systems and for understanding the relative roles of dynamics and structure in their behavior. The probabilistic approach to

x

Preface

complexity is further amplified in Chapter 4 by the incorporation of the con- cepts of symbolic dynamics and information. A set of entropy-like quantities is introduced and their connection with their thermodynamic counterparts is discussed. The selection rules presiding the formation of complex structures are also studied in terms of these quantities and the nature of the underlying dynamics. The stage is thus set for the analysis of the algorithmic aspects of complex systems and for the comparison between algorithmic complexity as defined in theoretical computer science and natural complexity. Building on the background provided by Chapters 1 to 4, Chapter 5 ad- dresses “operational” aspects of complexity, such as monitoring and data analysis approaches targeted specifically to complex systems. Special em- phasis is placed on the mechanisms underlying the propagation of prediction errors and the existence of a limited predictability horizon. The chapter ends with a discussion of recurrence and extreme events, two prediction-oriented topics of increasing concern. Finally, in Chapter 6 complexity is shown “in action” on a number of selected topics. The choices made in this selection out of the enormous number of possibilities reflect our general vision of complex- ity as part of fundamental science but also, inevitably, our personal interests and biases. We hope that this coverage illustrates adequately the relevance and range of applicability of the ideas and tools outlined in the book. The chapter ends with a section devoted to the epistemological aspects of com- plex systems. Having no particular background in epistemology we realize that this is a risky enterprise, but we feel that it cannot be dispensed with in a book devoted to complexity. The presentation of the topics of this final section is that of the practitioner of physical science, and contains only few elements of specialized jargon in a topic that could by itself give rise to an entire monograph. In preparing this book we have benefitted from discussions with, com- ments and help in the preparation of figures by Y. Almirantis, V. Basios, A. Garcia Cantu, P. Gaspard, M. Malek Mansour, J. S. Nicolis, S. C. Nicolis, A. Provata, R. Thomas and S. Vannitsem. S. Wellens assumed the hard task of typing the first two versions of the manuscript. Our research in the subject areas covered in this book is sponsored by The University of Brussels, the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, the Science Policy Office of the Belgian Federal Government, the European Space Agency and the European Commission. Their interest and support are gratefully acknowledged.

G. Nicolis, C. Nicolis Brussels, February 2007

Contents

Preface

vii

1 The phenomenology of complex systems

 

1

1.1 Complexity, a new paradigm

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1

1.2 Signatures of complexity

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

3

1.3 Onset of complexity .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

5

1.4 Four case studies

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

8

1.4.1 Rayleigh-B´enard convection

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

8

1.4.2 Atmospheric and climatic variability

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

11

1.4.3 Collective problem solving: food recruitment in ants

 

15

1.4.4 Human systems

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

19

1.5 Summing up

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

23

2 Deterministic view

25

2.1 Dynamical systems, phase space, stability

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

25

2.1.1 Conservative systems

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

27

2.1.2 Dissipative systems

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

27

2.2 Levels of description

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

34

2.2.1 The microscopic level .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

34

2.2.2 The macroscopic level

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

36

2.2.3 Thermodynamic formulation

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

38

2.3 Bifurcations, normal forms, emergence

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

41

2.4 Universality, structural stability

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

46

2.5 Deterministic chaos

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

49

2.6 Aspects of coupling-induced complexity

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

53

2.7 Modeling complexity beyond physical science

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

59

3 The probabilistic dimension of complex systems

 

64

3.1 Need for a probabilistic approach

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

64

3.2 Probability distributions and their evolution laws

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

65

3.3 The retrieval of universality

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

72

xi

xii

Contents

3.4 The transition to complexity in probability space

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

77

3.5 The limits of validity of the macroscopic description

 

82

3.5.1 Closing the moment equations in the mesoscopic

 

description

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

82

3.5.2 Transitions between states

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

84

3.5.3 Average values versus fluctuations in

 

deterministic chaos

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

88

3.6 Simulating complex systems

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

90

3.6.1 Monte Carlo simulation

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

91

3.6.2 Microscopic simulations

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

92

3.6.3 Cellular automata

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

94

3.6.4 Agents, players and games

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

95

3.7 Disorder-generated complexity .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

96

4 Information, entropy and selection

 

101

4.1 Complexity and information

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 101

4.2 The information entropy of a history

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 104

4.3 Scaling rules and selection

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 106

4.4 Time-dependent properties of information. Information entropy and thermodynamic entropy

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 115

4.5 Dynamical and statistical properties of time histories.

 

Large deviations, fluctuation theorems

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 117

4.6 Further information measures. Dimensions and Lyapunov

 

exponents revisited

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 120

4.7 Physical complexity, algorithmic complexity,

 

and computation

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 124

4.8 Summing up: towards a thermodynamics of

 

complex systems

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 128

5 Communicating with a complex system: monitoring, analysis and prediction

 

131

5.1 Nature of the problem

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 131

5.2 Classical approaches and their limitations .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 131

5.2.1 Exploratory data analysis

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 132

5.2.2 Time series analysis and statistical forecasting

 

135

5.2.3 Sampling in time and in space .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 138

5.3 Nonlinear data analysis .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 139

5.3.1 Dynamical reconstruction

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 139

5.3.2 Symbolic dynamics from time series .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 143

5.3.3 Nonlinear prediction

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 148

5.4 The monitoring of complex fields

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 151

Contents

xiii

 

5.4.1 Optimizing an observational network

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 153

5.4.2 Data assimilation

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 157

5.5 The predictability horizon and the limits of modeling

.

.

.

.

. 159

 

5.5.1 The dynamics of growth of initial errors

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 160

5.5.2 The dynamics of model errors

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 164

5.5.3 Can prediction errors be controlled? .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 170

5.6 Recurrence as a predictor

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 171

 

5.6.1 Formulation

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 172

5.6.2 Recurrence time statistics and dynamical

 
 

complexity .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 176

5.7 Extreme events

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 180

 

5.7.1 Formulation

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 180

5.7.2 Statistical theory of extremes

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 182

5.7.3 Signatures of a deterministic dynamics in

 
 

extreme events

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 185

 

5.7.4 Statistical and dynamical aspects of the Hurst

 
 

phenomenon .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 191

6

Selected topics

 

195

6.1 The arrow of time

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 195

 

6.1.1 The Maxwell-Boltzmann revolution, kinetic theory,

 
 

Boltzmann’s equation .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 196

 

6.1.2 First resolution of the paradoxes: Markov processes,

 
 

master equation .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 200

 

6.1.3 Generalized kinetic theories

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 202

6.1.4 Microscopic chaos and nonequilibrium statistical

 
 

mechanics

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 204

6.2 Thriving on fluctuations: the challenge of being small

 

208

 

6.2.1 Fluctuation dynamics in nonequilibrium steady

 
 

states revisited

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 210

 

6.2.2 The peculiar energetics of irreversible paths

 
 

joining equilibrium states .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 211

 

6.2.3 Transport in a fluctuating environment far from

 
 

equilibrium

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 214

6.3 Atmospheric dynamics

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 217

 

6.3.1 Low order models

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 218

6.3.2 More detailed models

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 222

6.3.3 Data analysis

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 223

6.3.4 Modeling and predicting with probabilities

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 224

6.4 Climate dynamics

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 226

 

6.4.1

Low order climate models

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 227

xiv

Contents

 

6.4.2 Predictability of meteorological versus climatic fields

 

. 230

6.4.3 Climatic change

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 233

6.5

Networks .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 235

6.5.1 Geometric and statistical properties of networks

 

236

6.5.2 Dynamical origin of networks

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 239

6.5.3 Dynamics on networks

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 244

6.6

Perspectives on biological complexity

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 247

6.6.1 Nonlinear dynamics and self-organization at the

 
 

biochemical, cellular and organismic level .

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 249

 

6.6.2 Biological superstructures

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 251

6.6.3 Biological networks

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 253

6.6.4 Complexity and the genome organization .

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 260

6.6.5 Molecular evolution .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 263

6.7

Equilibrium versus nonequilibrium in complexity and

 

self-organization

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 267

6.7.1 Nucleation .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 268

6.7.2 Stabilization of nanoscale patterns

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 272

6.7.3 Supramolecular chemistry

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 274

6.8

Epistemological insights from complex systems .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 276

6.8.1

Complexity, causality and chance

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 277

6.8.2

Complexity and historicity

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 279

6.8.3

Complexity and reductionism

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 283

6.8.4

Facts, analogies and metaphors

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. 285

Color plates

 

287

Suggestions for further reading

 

291

Index

321

Chapter 1

´

´

˜

´

´

´

´

`

´

The whole is more than the sum of its parts

Aristotle Metaphysica 1045a

The phenomenology of complex systems

1.1 Complexity, a new paradigm

Complexity is part of our ordinary vocabulary. It has been used in everyday life and in quite different contexts for a long time and suddenly, as recently as 15 years ago it became a major field of interdisciplinary research that has since then modified considerably the scientific landscape. What is in the general idea of complexity that was missing in our collective knowledge -one might even say, in our collective consciousness- which, once recognized, conferred to it its present prominent status? What makes us designate certain systems as “complex” distinguishing them from others