The Emergence of Complexity

Fromm, Jochen

kassel university press, ISBN: 978-3-89958-069-3, 2004, 200 Pages

URN: urn:nbn:de:0002-0699

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Content: Complex adaptive systems (CAS) consist of a large number of mutually
interacting and interwoven parts. Examples are neural and social networks,
nervous and immune systems, ancient and modern cultures, languages
and writing systems or economies and ecosystems. Nature is full
of complex and complicated systems in any shade of color, consistency and
complexity, from quasars to quarks, galaxies to snowflakes and microbes
to minds. How and why did the world become so marvelous complex ?

This book considers the question how complex systems suddenly emerge
during the course of evolution and why the long-winded and unlimited
evolution of complex systems is interspersed with short phases of
fast revolutions. It examines the major revolutions during the history
of evolution. Rather than being a smooth, continuous process, evolution
is marked by abrupt, unsteady changes and sudden jumps in complexity.

Based on the notations of agents, objects and object-orientedprogramming, the book gives convincing scientific arguments andwell illustrated explanations for the emergence of complex systems through different mechanisms and describes in detail how and why systems became more and more complex, from ancient cultures to modern states, from the earliest primitive eukaryotic organisms to conscious human beings, and from natural ecosystems to cultural organizations. It offers a fascinating new way to look at the universe and the natural world.

To describe and capture the essential principles of complex systems, aunified language and notation is necessary. In this text emphasis is placedon an agent based view of complex systems. Many books on complexity andemergence are vague and unclear, because they do not give a clear and precisedefinition or description of the main concepts in terms of agents. Theauthor holds the view that that the only way to achive a unified theory of complex adaptive systems is to use the notation of agent-based modeling,for example the Unified Modeling Language (UML).

Guided by the tools, techniques and notions of Multi-Agents Systems (MAS) and Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), the text explores the widest range of phenomena with the fewest possible principles. All Multi-Agent Systems have a natural system boundary, the agent itself. As the word "emergence" suggests, the emergence of complexity is always possible at system boundaries, which enable the transfer of complexity between different systems. The class of an object is the boundary between the private inside and the public outside and enables a transfer of complexitybetween both regions. The phenotype of an agent is the common boundary between genetic and memetic evolution. Fitness barriers set the boundaries of evolution. Revolutions in evolution are possible because evolution gets stuck from time to time when a large fitness barrier is reached. Evolution waits until massive catastrophes break these barriers or single agents are able to cross them.through a tunneling process.

The emergence of complexity has a price. The price for extension and expansion in one dimension is often limitation and localization in another dimension.Creation, concentration and accumulation is possible because something else is subject to destruction, dissipation or dispersion, and the emergence of completely new species is usually accompanied by the mass extinctionof older species. Complexity and its emergence are inextricably linked to catastrophes and extinctions.

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