Complexity/Chaos
Theory = the non-linear dynamics of complex adaptive systems; it is an attempt to explain the dynamical behavior of complex systems by discovering
the laws governing such behavior, which can range from the chaotic to the rigidly ordered,
with a critical "edge-of-chaos" region in the middle where order and
disorder co-exist. At the edge-of-chaos region, complex dynamical systems become
adaptive, solve problems and evolve by mutation and selection. Such systems are called
Complex Adaptive Systems, or CAS.
The
underlying hypotheses of CAS are predicated upon an idealized mathematical model devised
and popularized by (among others) Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute for
Complexity, and Stephen Wolfram, now the CEO of Wolfram Research at the Univ. of Illinois.
Kauffman's model is called the Autonomous, Synchronous, discrete, Boolean Network and can be
tested rigorously and exhaustively by computer simulation to uncover regularities and
patterns which apply to all complex systems. These Boolean Networks are characterized by
certain properties and features which make them particularly useful for analyzing the
dynamical behavior of real-world complex systems.
Kauffman also asserts that order can arise
spontaneously in complex systems, without any selection operating to move the system in
one direction or the other. He calls this well-documented phenomenon "order for
free" and it occurs without any violation of the 2^{nd} law of
thermodynamics. Complex systems represented by Random (autonomous, synchronous, discrete)
Boolean networks with particular properties (low connectivity among the participating
elements, and a bias towards a particular logical switching rule, the OR function), show
extraordinary spontaneous order.
Kauffman maintains that this spontaneous
order is highly susceptible to selective factors in the environments of complex systems,
and so the emergence of even more complex systems readily occurs. He hypothesizes with
loads of experimental evidence accumulated from both computer simulations with Boolean
Networks, and from naturally occurring complex systems such as cellular genomes, that a
vast readily available reservoir of spontaneous order not only preceded selection but was
a necessary "substrate" for selection. He asserts that the evolution of life was
highly probable, and not the extremely improbable event assumed by most. |