Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers

Self-Organized Criticality and Cellular Automata

  • Michael Creutz
Living reference work entry

Later version available View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27737-5_474-6

Definition of the Subject

Self-organized criticality is a concept invoked to explain the frequent occurrence of fractal structures and multiscale phenomena in nature. In contrast with the ideas of chaos, here simple common features appear in systems with many degrees of freedom. For modeling this phenomenon, cellular automata provide an elegant class of dynamical systems which are easily simulated numerically.


Cellular automata provide a fascinating class of dynamical systems based on very simple rules of evolution yet capable of displaying highly complex behavior. These include simplified models for many phenomena seen in nature. Among other things, they provide insight into self-organized criticality, wherein dissipative systems naturally drive themselves to a critical state with important phenomena occurring over a wide range of length and time scales.

This entry begins with an overview of self-organized criticality. This is followed by a discussion of a few examples of...


Cellular Automaton Sandpile Model Relaxation Operator Successive Time Step Live Neighbor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physics DepartmentBrookhaven National LaboratoryUptonUSA