The idea that nothing exists in isolation−but only as part of a system−has long been embedded in folklore, religious scriptures, and common sense.
june holley's insight:
"The idea that nothing exists in isolation−but only as part of a system−has long been embedded in folklore, religious scriptures, and common sense. Yet, systems dynamics as a science has yet to transform the way we conduct the public business. This article first briefly explores the question of why advances in systems theory have failed to transform public policy. The second part describes the ways in which our understanding of systems is growing−not so much from theorizing, but from practical applications in agriculture, building design, and medical science. The third part focuses on whether and how that knowledge and systems science can be deployed to improve urban governance in the face of rapid climate destabilization so that sustainability becomes the norm, not the occasional success story."
Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.
Research on human social interactions has traditionally relied on self-reports. Despite their widespread use, self-reported accounts of behaviour are prone to biases and necessarily reduce the range of behaviours, and the number of subjects, that may be studied simultaneously. The development of ever smaller sensors makes it possible to study group-level human behaviour in naturalistic settings outside research laboratories. We used such sensors, sociometers, to examine gender, talkativeness and interaction style in two different contexts. Here, we find that in the collaborative context, women were much more likely to be physically proximate to other women and were also significantly more talkative than men, especially in small groups. In contrast, there were no gender-based differences in the non-collaborative setting. Our results highlight the importance of objective measurement in the study of human behaviour, here enabling us to discern context specific, gender-based differences in interaction style.
The importance of complexity is well-captured by Hawking's comment: "Complexity is the science of the 21st century". From the movement of flocks of birds to the Internet, environmental sustainability, and market regulation, the study and understanding of complex non-linear systems has become highly influential over the last 30 years.
In this Very Short Introduction, one of the leading figures in the field, John Holland, introduces the key elements and conceptual framework of complexity. From complex physical systems such as fluid flow and the difficulties of predicting weather, to complex adaptive systems such as the highly diverse and interdependent ecosystems of rainforests, he combines simple, well-known examples -- Adam Smith's pin factory, Darwin's comet orchid, and Simon's 'watchmaker' -- with an account of the approaches, involving agents and urn models, taken by complexity theory.
We present theoretical and empirical results demonstrating the usefulness of voting rules for participatory democracies. We first give algorithms which efficiently elicit \epsilon-approximations to two prominent voting rules: the Borda rule and the Condorcet winner. This result circumvents previous prohibitive lower bounds and is surprisingly strong: even if the number of ideas is as large as the number of participants, each participant will only have to make a logarithmic number of comparisons, an exponential improvement over the linear number of comparisons previously needed. We demonstrate the approach in an experiment in Finland's recent off-road traffic law reform, observing that the total number of comparisons needed to achieve a fixed \epsilon approximation is linear in the number of ideas and that the constant is not large. Finally, we note a few other experimental observations which support the use of voting rules for aggregation. First, we observe that rating, one of the common alternatives to ranking, manifested effects of bias in our data. Second, we show that very few of the topics lacked a Condorcet winner, one of the prominent negative results in voting. Finally, we show data hinting at a potential future direction: the use of partial rankings as opposed to pairwise comparisons to further decrease the elicitation time.
Cooperating animals frequently show closely coordinated behaviours organized by a continuous flow of information between interacting partners. Such real-time coaction is not captured by the iterated prisoner׳s dilemma and other discrete-time reciprocal cooperation games, which inherently feature a delay in information exchange. Here, we study the evolution of cooperation when individuals can dynamically respond to each other׳s actions.
In recent years the research community has accumulated overwhelming evidence for the emergence of complex and heterogeneous connectivity patterns in a wide range of biological and socio-technical systems. The complex properties of real world networks have a profound impact on the behavior of equilibrium and non-equilibrium phenomena occurring in various systems, and the study of epidemic spreading is central to our understanding of the unfolding of dynamical processes in complex networks. The theoretical analysis of epidemic spreading in heterogeneous networks requires the development of novel analytical frameworks, and it has produced results of conceptual and practical relevance. Here we present a coherent and comprehensive review of the vast research activity concerning epidemic processes, detailing the successful theoretical approaches as well as making their limits and assumptions clear. Physicists, epidemiologists, computer and social scientists share a common interest in studying epidemic spreading and rely on very similar models for the description of the diffusion of pathogens, knowledge, and innovation. For this reason, while we focus on the main results and the paradigmatic models in infectious disease modeling, we also present the major results concerning generalized social contagion processes. Finally we outline the research activity at the forefront in the study of epidemic spreading in co-evolving and time-varying networks.
Epidemic processes in complex networks Romualdo Pastor-Satorras, Claudio Castellano, Piet Van Mieghem, Alessandro Vespignani
Network methods have had profound influence in many domains and disciplines in the past decade. Community structure is a very important property of complex networks, but the accurate definition of a community remains an open problem. Here we defined community based on three properties, and then propose a simple and novel framework to detect communities based on network topology. We analyzed 16 different types of networks, and compared our partitions with Infomap, LPA, Fastgreedy and Walktrap, which are popular algorithms for community detection. Most of the partitions generated using our approach compare favorably to those generated by these other algorithms. Furthermore, we define overlapping nodes that combine community structure with shortest paths. We also analyzed the E. Coli. transcriptional regulatory network in detail, and identified modules with strong functional coherence.
A number of social-ecological systems exhibit complex behavior associated with nonlinearities, bifurcations, and interaction with stochastic drivers. These systems are often prone to abrupt and unexpected instabilities and state shifts that emerge as a discontinuous response to gradual changes in environmental drivers. Predicting such behaviors is crucial to the prevention of or preparation for unwanted regime shifts. Recent research in ecology has investigated early warning signs that anticipate the divergence of univariate ecosystem dynamics from a stable attractor. To date, leading indicators of instability in systems with multiple interacting components have remained poorly investigated. This is a major limitation in the understanding of the dynamics of complex social-ecological networks. Here, we develop a theoretical framework to demonstrate that rising variance—measured, for example, by the maximum element of the covariance matrix of the network—is an effective leading indicator of network instability. We show that its reliability and robustness depend more on the sign of the interactions within the network than the network structure or noise intensity. Mutualistic, scale free and small world networks are less stable than their antagonistic or random counterparts but their instability is more reliably predicted by this leading indicator. These results provide new advances in multidimensional early warning analysis and offer a framework to evaluate the resilience of social-ecological networks.
Early Warning Signs in Social-Ecological Networks.
PLoS ONE 9(7): e101851. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101851 (2014)
Collective decisions in animal groups emerge from the actions of individuals who are unlikely to have global information. Comparative assessment of options can be valuable in decision-making. Ant colonies are excellent collective decision-makers, for example when selecting a new nest-site.
Social technologies with their inherent democratic, anti-hierarchical quality easily transcend internal and external boundaries, suddenly creating a powerful thrust for horizontal collaboration and participation. They give each and every member of an organization a creative voice and enable real-time virtual connectivity in a way we have never seen before. This makes them a great catalyst for the organizational principles that are required by the new leadership context of the 21st century.