Complex Systems and Science

The structure of scientific inquiry is being challenged by the broad relevance of complexity to the understanding of physical, biological, and social systems (Bar-Yam 2000; Bar-Yam and Minai 2002; Gallagher and Appenzeller 1999). Cross-disciplinary interactions are giving way to transdisciplinary and unified efforts to address the relevance of large amounts of information to describing, understanding, and controlling complex systems. From the study of biomolecular interactions (Service 1999; Normile 1999; Weng, Bhalla, and Iyengar 1999) to the strategy tactics of 21st century Information Age warfare and the war on terrorism, complexity has arisen as a unifying description of challenges to understanding and action. In this arena of complex systems, information, and action, structure and function are entangled. New approaches that recognize the importance of patterns of behavior, the multiscale space of possibilities, and evolutionary or adaptive processes that select systems or behaviors that can be effective in a complex world are central to advancing our understanding and capabilities (Bar-Yam 1997).

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