Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

pp 4902-4920

Interaction Based Computing in Physics

  • Franco BagnoliAffiliated withUniversity of Florence

Definition

Physics investigation is based on building models of reality: in order for a phenomenon to be understood, we need to represent it in our minds using a limited amount of symbols. However, it is a common experience that, even using simple “building blocks” one usually obtains systems whose behavior is quite complex. In this case one needs to develop new languages and new phenomenological models in order to manage this “complexity”.

Computers have changed the way a physical model is studied. Computers may be used to calculate the properties of a very complicated model representing a real system, or to investigate experimentally what are the essential ingredients of a complex phenomenon. In order to carry out these explorations, several basic models have been developed, which are now used as building blocks for performing simulations and designing algorithms in many fields, from chemistry to engineering, from natural sciences to psychology. Rather than being derived from some fund ...

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