Complex Systems

  • A. H. LouieEmail author
  • Roberto Poli
Living reference work entry

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Traditional modes of system representation as dynamical systems, involving fixed sets of states together with imposed dynamical laws, pertain only to a meagre subclass of natural systems. This reductionistic paradigm leaves no room for final causes; constrained thus are the simple systems. Members of their complementary collection, natural systems having mathematical models that are not dynamical systems, are the complex systems. Complex systems, containing hierarchical cycles in their entailment networks, can only be approximated and simulated, locally and temporarily, by simple ones. Anticipatory systems are, in this specific sense, complex, hence this introductory chapter on Complex Systems in the Handbook of Anticipation.


Complex system Simple system Anticipatory system Dynamical system Impredicativity Closed path of efficient causation Hierarchical cycle Emergence Difference in kind Simulability Algorithm 



We dedicate this exposition on impredicativity to Robert Rosen (1934–1998), iconoclastic mathematical biologist, whose permeating presence in this Handbook of Anticipation is keenly felt. His next monograph would have been Complexity.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Social ResearchUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly

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