The Nature of Complexity and Relevance to Pharmaceutical Sciences

Part of the Outlines in Pharmaceutical Sciences book series (OIPS, volume 1)


The decade of the 1970s was a period of change for many reasons. In addition to the revolution in personal computing, information, and gaming technology, a new view of the underpinning mathematics and science in nature was evolving. Benoit Mandelbrot developed a mathematical approach to describe the apparent complexity in nature (Mandelbrot 1977). He observed that the superficial appearance of objects was built on a foundation of nonlinearity or “roughness” which could be described simply as self-similar at any scale of ­scrutiny. This “fractal” approach became a central philosophy behind complexity studies. As scientists in different disciplines began to accommodate complex interpretations of their data, a new approach to predict or describe physical phenomena evolved that challenged more traditional methods and increased the potential to understand previously poorly understood. During this period, others were also formulating approaches to nonlinear phenomena in a variety of fields (Woodcock and Davis 1978).


  1. Gleick J (1987) Chaos. Penguin Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Mandelbrot BB (1977) The fractal geometry of nature. W.H. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Woodcock A, Davis M (1978) Catastrophe theory. Penguin Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Banchoff TF (1990) Beyond the third dimension. Scientific American Library, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnsley M (1985) Fractals everywhere. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Efros AL (1986) Physics and geometry of disorder. Mir Publishers, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  4. Falconer K (1990) Fractal geometry, mathematical foundations and applications. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Gilmore R (1981) Catastrophe theory for scientists and engineers. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Kim JH, Stringer J (1992) Applied chaos. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Liebovitch LS (1998) Fractals and chaos, simplified for the life sciences. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Moon FC (1992) Chaotic and fractal dynamics. Wiley, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Nayfeh AH, Balachandron B (1995) Applied nonlinear dynamics. Wiley, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Schroeder M (1991) Fractals, chaos, power laws. W.H. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Stauffer D, Aharony A (1992) Introduction to percolation theory, 2nd edn. Taylor and Francis, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  12. Thompson JMT, Bishop SR (1994) Nonlinearity and chaos in engineering dynamics. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eshelman School of PharmacyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.University of TexasAustinUSA

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