11-Seel - Complexity & OD

11-Seel - Complexity & OD - Complexity ODAn...

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A man was walking home one dark and foggy night. As he groped his way through   the murk he nearly tripped over someone crawling around by a lamp post. “What   are you doing?” asked the traveller. “I’m looking for my keys.” Replied the other.  “Are you sure you lost them here?” asked the first man. “I’m not sure at all,”  came the reply, “but if I haven’t lost them near this lamp I don’t stand a chance of  finding them.” Most  people  know  this  story.  For me  it is metaphor  of science. ‘Normal  science’ in  Kuhn’s  (1962) terms,  consists  of looking  as  assiduously  as  possible  in  the  lit  area,  perhaps  exploring  those edges where  the gloom  is not quite impenetrable. From time  to time someone  manages to switch on a new  light—a paradigm  shift, in Kuhn’s terms —and  a new  area of exploration  is opened  up. Science is about  the art of the possible; it does not deny  that the keys may  lie in the   darkness, it simply  does not consider that its job consists of feeling around  blindly. Until recently, the light  by which  science was  working  was  only  able to illuminate   simple, linear, systems. The advent  of the computer  changed  things. It is now  possible  to look at complex  systems  in two  ways: computers  can solve  previously-impossible  nonlinear  equations  and  they  can  simulate  of complex  systems  by means  of models   known  variously as cellular automata, genetic algorithms, neural nets and  so on. So what  is a complex system?  The field is still very  new  and  there  is no agreement   about terms and  terminology  but the following  quotes start to give a flavour: …a system that is  complex , in the sense that a great many independent agents are  interacting with each other in a great many ways.  (Waldrop  1993:11) …to understand the behavior of a complex system we must understand not only   the behaviour of the parts but how they act together to form the whole.  (Bar-Yam,  1997:1) …you generally find that the basic components and the basic laws are quite simple;  the complexity arises because you have a great many of these simple components   interacting simultaneously. The complexity  is actually in the organization—the   myriad possible ways that the components of the system can interact.   (Stephen   Wolfram, quoted  in Waldrop  1993:86) Complex adaptive systems consist  of a number of components, or agents, that   interact with each other according to sets of rules that require them to examine and  respond to each other’s behaviour in order to improve their behaviour and thus the 
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This note was uploaded on 05/23/2010 for the course IE 398 taught by Professor T during the Spring '10 term at Middle East Technical University.

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11-Seel - Complexity & OD - Complexity ODAn...

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