This article largely discusses complex systems as a subject of mathematics and the attempts to emulate physical complex systems with emergent properties. For other scientific and professional disciplines addressing complexity in their fields see the complex systems article and references.
Although it is arguable that humans have been studying complex systems for thousands of years, the modern scientific study of complex systems is relatively young in comparison to conventional fields of science with simple system assumptions, such as physics and chemistry. The history of the scientific study of these systems follows several different research trends.
For a dynamical system to be classified as chaotic, it must have the following properties:
Assign z to z2 minus the conjugate of z, plus the original value of the pixel for each pixel, then count how many cycles it took when the absolute value of z exceeds two; inversion (borders are inner set), so that you can see that it threatens to fail that third condition, even if it meets condition two.
Sensitivity to initial conditions means that each point in such a system is arbitrarily closely approximated by other points with significantly different future trajectories. Thus, an arbitrarily small perturbation of the current trajectory may lead to significantly different future behavior.
The behavior of nonlinear systems is not subject to the principle of superposition while that of linear systems is subject to superposition. Thus, a complex nonlinear system is one whose behavior can't be expressed as a sum of the behaviors of its parts (or of their multiples).
Topics on complex systems
Features of complex systems
Complex systems may have the following features:
Due to the strong coupling between components in complex systems, a failure in one or more components can lead to cascading failures which may have catastrophic consequences on the functioning of the system.
Complex systems may be open
Complex systems are usually open systems — that is, they exist in a thermodynamic gradient and dissipate energy. In other words, complex systems are frequently far from energetic equilibrium: but despite this flux, there may be pattern stability, see synergetics.
Complex systems may have a memory
The history of a complex system may be important. Because complex systems are dynamical systems they change over time, and prior states may have an influence on present states. More formally, complex systems often exhibit hysteresis.
Complex systems may be nested
The components of a complex system may themselves be complex systems. For example, an economy is made up of organisations, which are made up of people, which are made up of cells - all of which are complex systems.
Dynamic network of multiplicity
As well as coupling rules, the dynamic network of a complex system is important. Small-world or scale-free networks which have many local interactions and a smaller number of inter-area connections are often employed. Natural complex systems often exhibit such topologies. In the human cortex for example, we see dense local connectivity and a few very long axon projections between regions inside the cortex and to other brain regions.
May produce emergent phenomena
Complex systems may exhibit behaviors that are emergent, which is to say that while the results may be sufficiently determined by the activity of the systems' basic constituents, they may have properties that can only be studied at a higher level. For example, the termites in a mound have physiology, biochemistry and biological development that are at one level of analysis, but their social behavior and mound building is a property that emerges from the collection of termites and needs to be analysed at a different level.
Relationships are non-linear
In practical terms, this means a small perturbation may cause a large effect (see butterfly effect), a proportional effect, or even no effect at all. In linear systems, effect is always directly proportional to cause. See nonlinearity.
Relationships contain feedback loops
Both negative (damping) and positive (amplifying) feedback are always found in complex systems. The effects of an element's behaviour are fed back to in such a way that the element itself is altered.