Journal of Systems Science and Complexity

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 647–663 | Cite as

Dynamical Criticality: Overview and Open Questions

  • Andrea RoliEmail author
  • Marco Villani
  • Alessandro Filisetti
  • Roberto Serra


Systems that exhibit complex behaviours are often found in a particular dynamical condition, poised between order and disorder. This observation is at the core of the so-called criticality hypothesis, which states that systems in a dynamical regime between order and disorder attain the highest level of computational capabilities and achieve an optimal trade-off between robustness and flexibility. Recent results in cellular and evolutionary biology, neuroscience and computer science have revitalised the interest in the criticality hypothesis, emphasising its role as a viable candidate general law in adaptive complex systems. This paper provides an overview of the works on dynamical criticality that are — To the best of our knowledge — Particularly relevant for the criticality hypothesis. The authors review the main contributions concerning dynamics and information processing at the edge of chaos, and illustrate the main achievements in the study of critical dynamics in biological systems. Finally, the authors discuss open questions and propose an agenda for future work.


Attractors criticality dynamical regimes edge of chaos phase transitions 


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We are deeply indebted to Stuart Kauffman for his inspiring ideas and for several discussions on various aspects of the criticality hypothesis. We also gratefully acknowledge useful discussions with David Lane, Alex Graudenzi and Chiara Damiani.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Systems Science, Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Roli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marco Villani
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alessandro Filisetti
    • 4
    • 5
  • Roberto Serra
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Engineering (DISI), Campus of CesenaUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Physics, Informatics and MathematicsUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  3. 3.European Centre for Living TechnologyVeneziaItaly
  4. 4.Explora s.r.l.RomaItaly
  5. 5.European Centre for Living TechnologyVeneziaItaly

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