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Measuring Information-Transfer Delays

Measuring Information-Transfer Delays | Papers | Scoop.it

In complex networks such as gene networks, traffic systems or brain circuits it is important to understand how long it takes for the different parts of the network to effectively influence one another. In the brain, for example, axonal delays between brain areas can amount to several tens of milliseconds, adding an intrinsic component to any timing-based processing of information. Inferring neural interaction delays is thus needed to interpret the information transfer revealed by any analysis of directed interactions across brain structures. However, a robust estimation of interaction delays from neural activity faces several challenges if modeling assumptions on interaction mechanisms are wrong or cannot be made. Here, we propose a robust estimator for neuronal interaction delays rooted in an information-theoretic framework, which allows a model-free exploration of interactions. In particular, we extend transfer entropy to account for delayed source-target interactions, while crucially retaining the conditioning on the embedded target state at the immediately previous time step. We prove that this particular extension is indeed guaranteed to identify interaction delays between two coupled systems and is the only relevant option in keeping with Wiener’s principle of causality. We demonstrate the performance of our approach in detecting interaction delays on finite data by numerical simulations of stochastic and deterministic processes, as well as on local field potential recordings. We also show the ability of the extended transfer entropy to detect the presence of multiple delays, as well as feedback loops. While evaluated on neuroscience data, we expect the estimator to be useful in other fields dealing with network dynamics.

 

Wibral M, Pampu N, Priesemann V, Siebenhühner F, Seiwert H, et al. (2013) Measuring Information-Transfer Delays.

PLoS ONE 8(2): e55809.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055809

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055809

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Introduction to Focus Issue: Complex Dynamics in Networks, Multilayered Structures and Systems

In the last years, network scientists have directed their interest to the multi-layer character of real-world systems, and explicitly considered the structural and dynamical organization of graphs made of diverse layers between its constituents. Most complex systems include multiple subsystems and layers of connectivity and, in many cases, the interdependent components of systems interact through many different channels. Such a new perspective is indeed found to be the adequate representation for a wealth of features exhibited by networked systems in the real world. The contributions presented in this Focus Issue cover, from different points of view, the many achievements and still open questions in the field of multi-layer networks, such as: new frameworks and structures to represent and analyze heterogeneous complex systems, different aspects related to synchronization and centrality of complex networks, interplay between layers, and applications to logistic, biological, social, and technological fields.

 

Introduction to Focus Issue: Complex Dynamics in Networks, Multilayered Structures and Systems
Stefano Boccaletti, Regino Criado, Miguel Romance and Joaquín J. Torres

Chaos 26, 065101 (2016); http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4953595

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Understanding Predictability and Exploration in Human Mobility

Predictive models for human mobility have important applications in many fields such as traffic control, ubiquitous computing and contextual advertisement. The predictive performance of models in literature varies quite broadly, from as high as 93% to as low as under 40%. In this work we investigate which factors influence the accuracy of next-place prediction, using a high-precision location dataset of more than 400 users for periods between 3 months and one year. We show that it is easier to achieve high accuracy when predicting the time-bin location than when predicting the next place. Moreover we demonstrate how the temporal and spatial resolution of the data can have strong influence on the accuracy of prediction. Finally we uncover that the exploration of new locations is an important factor in human mobility, and we measure that on average 20-25% of transitions are to new places, and approx. 70% of locations are visited only once. We discuss how these mechanisms are important factors limiting our ability to predict human mobility.

 

Understanding Predictability and Exploration in Human Mobility
Andrea Cuttone, Sune Lehmann, Marta C. González

http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.01939

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Fruitful symbioses between termites and computers

The living-together of distinct organisms in a single termite nest along with the termite builder colony, is emblematic in its ecological and evolutionary significance. On top of preserving biodiversity, these interspecific and intraspecific symbioses provide useful examples of interindividual associations thought to underly transitions in organic evolution. Being interindividual in nature, such processes may involve emergent phenomena and hence call for analytical solutions provided by computing tools and modelling, as opposed to classical biological methods of analysis. Here we provide selected examples of such solutions, showing that termite studies may profit from a symbiotic-like link with computing science to open up wide and new research avenues in ecology and evolution.

 

Fruitful symbioses between termites and computers
Og DeSouza, Elio Tuci, Octavio Miramontes

http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.05367

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The Physics behind Systems Biology


Systems Biology is a young and rapidly evolving research field, which combines experimental techniques and mathematical modeling in order to achieve a mechanistic understanding of processes underlying the regulation and evolution of living systems. Systems Biology is often associated with an Engineering approach: The purpose is to formulate a data-rich, detailed simulation model that allows to perform numerical (‘in silico’) experiments and then draw conclusions about the biological system. While methods from Engineering may be an appropriate approach to extending the scope of biological investigations to experimentally inaccessible realms and to supporting data-rich experimental work, it may not be the best strategy in a search for design principles of biological systems and the fundamental laws underlying Biology. Physics has a long tradition of characterizing and understanding emergent collective behaviors in systems of interacting units and searching for universal laws. Therefore, it is natural that many concepts used in Systems Biology have their roots in Physics. With an emphasis on Theoretical Physics, we will here review the ‘Physics core’ of Systems Biology, show how some success stories in Systems Biology can be traced back to concepts developed in Physics, and discuss how Systems Biology can further benefit from its Theoretical Physics foundation.



Via Bernard Ryefield
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Noise and Function

Noise is widely understood to be something that interferes with a signal or process. Thus, it is generally thought to be destructive, obscuring signals and interfering with function. However, early in the 20th century, mechanical engineers found that mechanisms inducing additional vibration in mechanical systems could prevent sticking and hysteresis. This so-called "dither" noise was later introduced in an entirely different context at the advent of digital information transmission and recording in the early 1960s. Ironically, the addition of noise allows one to preserve information that would otherwise be lost when the signal or image is digitized. As we shall see, the benefits of added noise in these contexts are closely related to the phenomenon which has come to be known as stochastic resonance, the original version of which appealed to noise to explain how small periodic fluctuations in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit might be amplified in such a way as to bring about the observed periodic transitions in climate from ice age to temperate age and back. These noise-induced transitions have since been invoked to explain a wide array of biological phenomena, including the foraging and tracking behavior of ants. Many biological phenomena, from foraging to gene expression, are noisy, involving an element of randomness. In this paper, we illustrate the general principles behind dithering and stochastic resonance using examples from image processing, and then show how the constructive use of noise can carry over to systems found in nature.

 

Noise and Function
Steven Weinstein, Theodore P. Pavlic

http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.04824

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A conceptual approach to model co-evolution of urban structures

Urban structures encompass settlements, characterized by the spatial distribution of built-up areas, but also transportation structures, to connect these built-up areas. These two structures are very different in their origin and function, fulfilling complementary needs: (i) to access space, and (ii) to occupy space. Their evolution cannot be understood by looking at the dynamics of urban aggregations and transportation systems separately. Instead, existing built-up areas feed back on the further development of transportation structures, and the availability of the latter feeds back on the future growth of urban aggregations. To model this co-evolution, we propose an agent-based approach that builds on existing agent-based models for the evolution of trail systems and of urban settlements. The key element in these separate approaches is a generalized communication of agents by means of an adaptive landscape. This landscape is only generated by the agents, but once it exists, it feeds back on their further actions. The emerging trail system or urban aggregation results as a self-organized structure from these collective interactions. In our co-evolutionary approach, we couple these two separate models by means of meta-agents that represent humans with their different demands for housing and mobility. We characterize our approach as a statistical ensemble approach, which allows to capture the potential of urban evolution in a bottom-up manner, but can be validated against empirical observations.

 

A conceptual approach to model co-evolution of urban structures
Frank Schweitzer, Vahan Nanumyan

http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.04707

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The Braess Paradox in a network of totally asymmetric exclusion processes

We study the Braess paradox in the transport network as originally proposed by Braess with totally asymmetric exclusion processes (TASEPs) on the edges. The Braess paradox describes the counterintuitive situation where adding an additional edge to a road network leads to a user optimum with higher traveltimes for all network users. Traveltimes on the TASEPs are nonlinear in the density and jammed states can occur due to the microscopic exclusion principle. Furthermore the individual edges influence each other. This leads to a much more realistic description of traffic-like transport on the network than in previously studied linear macroscopic mathematical models. Furthermore the stochastic dynamics allows to explore the effects of fluctuations on the network performance. We observe that for low densities the added edge leads to lower traveltimes. For slightly higher densities the Braess paradox in its classical sense occurs in a small density regime. In a large regime of intermediate densities strong fluctuations in the traveltimes dominate the system's behaviour. These fluctuations are due to links that are in a domain wall or coexistence phase. At high densities the added link leads to lower traveltimes. We present a phase diagram predicting in which state the system will be, depending on the global density and crucial length ratios.

 

The Braess Paradox in a network of totally asymmetric exclusion processes
Stefan Bittihn, Andreas Schadschneider

http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.03753

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The Hidden Danger of Big Data

The Hidden Danger of Big Data | Papers | Scoop.it
With big data, we can multiply our options and filter out things we don’t want to see. But there is much to be said for making discoveries through pure serendipity: contingency and randomness often furnish the transformational or counterintuitive ideas that propel humanity forward.

 

The Hidden Danger of Big Data

Carlo Ratti & Dirk Helbing

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/data-optimization-danger-by-carlo-ratti-and-dirk-helbing-2016-08

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Extended Intelligence

We propose a kind of Extended Intelligence (EI), understanding intelligence as a fundamentally distributed phenomenon. As we develop increasingly powerful tools to process information and network that processing, aren’t we just adding new pieces to the EI that every actor in the network is a part of?

 

Extended Intelligence

Joichi Ito

Journal of Design and Science

http://jods.mitpress.mit.edu/pub/extended-intelligence

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Brazil asks whether Zika acts alone to cause birth defects

Brazil asks whether Zika acts alone to cause birth defects | Papers | Scoop.it
Government researchers in Brazil are set to explore the country's peculiar distribution of Zika-linked microcephaly — babies born with abnormally small heads.

Zika virus has spread throughout Brazil, but extremely high rates of microcephaly have been reported only in the country's northeast. Although evidence suggests that Zika can cause microcephaly, the clustering pattern hints that other environmental, socio-economic or biological factors could be at play.

“We suspect that something more than Zika virus is causing the high intensity and severity of cases,” says Fatima Marinho, director of information and health analysis at Brazil’s ministry of health. If that turns out to be true, it could change researchers' assessment of the risk that Zika poses to pregnant women and their children.
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Joys of Noise

Joys of Noise | Papers | Scoop.it

In engineering, uncertainty is usually as welcome as sand in a salad. The development of digital technologies, from the alphabet to the DVD, has been driven in large part by the desire to eliminate random fluctuations, or noise, inherent in analog systems like speech or VHS tapes. But randomness also has a special ability to make some systems work better. Here are five cases where a little chaos is a critical part of the plan:

  • Stochastic Resonance
  • Cryptography
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Gambling
  • Computer Simulations

 

http://nautil.us/issue/38/noise/joys-of-noise-rp 

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Interdisciplinary research has consistently lower funding success

Interdisciplinary research is widely considered a hothouse for innovation, and the only plausible approach to complex problems such as climate change1, 2. One barrier to interdisciplinary research is the widespread perception that interdisciplinary projects are less likely to be funded than those with a narrower focus3, 4. However, this commonly held belief has been difficult to evaluate objectively, partly because of lack of a comparable, quantitative measure of degree of interdisciplinarity that can be applied to funding application data1. Here we compare the degree to which research proposals span disparate fields by using a biodiversity metric that captures the relative representation of different fields (balance) and their degree of difference (disparity). The Australian Research Council’s Discovery Programme provides an ideal test case, because a single annual nationwide competitive grants scheme covers fundamental research in all disciplines, including arts, humanities and sciences. Using data on all 18,476 proposals submitted to the scheme over 5 consecutive years, including successful and unsuccessful applications, we show that the greater the degree of interdisciplinarity, the lower the probability of being funded. The negative impact of interdisciplinarity is significant even when number of collaborators, primary research field and type of institution are taken into account. This is the first broad-scale quantitative assessment of success rates of interdisciplinary research proposals. The interdisciplinary distance metric allows efficient evaluation of trends in research funding, and could be used to identify proposals that require assessment strategies appropriate to interdisciplinary research5.

 

Interdisciplinary research has consistently lower funding success
Lindell Bromham, Russell Dinnage & Xia Hua

Nature 534, 684–687 (30 June 2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature18315

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WHY OUR INNOVATION SYSTEM IS FAILING - and How to Change This

Our innovation system has terribly failed. It is well designed to support gradual improvements of our knowledge and technologies. But it does not support disruptive innovations well, which would create new qualities and functionalities, or question the basis of our established knowledge and routines. Moreover, our knowledge does not keep up anymore with the pace at which our world changes, and solutions to new problems often come with serious delays. Therefore, we need to re-invent innovation. In particularly, we must learn to create systems embracing collective intelligence that surpasses the intelligence of even the brightest individual and of powerful supercomputing solutions. This cannot be based on top-down nor majority decisions. Diversity is absolutely crucial for collective intelligence to work…

 

WHY OUR INNOVATION SYSTEM IS FAILING - and How to Change This

by Dirk Helbing

http://futurict.blogspot.mx/2016/08/why-our-innovation-system-is-failing_87.html

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The new challenges of multiplex networks: measures and models

What do societies, the Internet, and the human brain have in common? The immediate answer might be "not that much", but in reality they are all examples of complex relational systems, whose emerging behaviours are largely determined by the non-trivial networks of interactions among their constituents, namely individuals, computers, or neurons. In the last two decades, network scientists have proposed models of increasing complexity to better understand real-world systems. Only recently we have realised that multiplexity, i.e. the coexistence of several types of interactions among the constituents of a complex system, is responsible for substantial qualitative and quantitative differences in the type and variety of behaviours that a complex system can exhibit. As a consequence, multilayer and multiplex networks have become a hot topic in complexity science. Here we provide an overview of some of the measures proposed so far to characterise the structure of multiplex networks, and a selection of models aiming at reproducing those structural properties and at quantifying their statistical significance. Focusing on a subset of relevant topics, this brief review is a quite comprehensive introduction to the most basic tools for the analysis of multiplex networks observed in the real-world. The wide applicability of multiplex networks as a framework to model complex systems in different fields, from biology to social sciences, and the colloquial tone of the paper will make it an interesting read for researchers working on both theoretical and experimental analysis of networked systems.

 

The new challenges of multiplex networks: measures and models
Federico Battiston, Vincenzo Nicosia, Vito Latora

http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.09221

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Robustness and Resilience of cities around the world

The concept of city or urban resilience has emerged as one of the key challenges for the next decades. As a consequence, institutions like the United Nations or Rockefeller Foundation have embraced initiatives that increase or improve it. These efforts translate into funded programs both for action on the ground and to develop quantification of resilience, under the for of an index. Ironically, on the academic side there is no clear consensus regarding how resilience should be quantified, or what it exactly refers to in the urban context. Here we attempt to link both extremes providing an example of how to exploit large, publicly available, worldwide urban datasets, to produce objective insight into one of the possible dimensions of urban resilience. We do so via well-established methods in complexity science, such as percolation theory --which has a long tradition at providing valuable information on the vulnerability in complex systems. Our findings uncover large differences among studied cities, both regarding their infrastructural fragility and the imbalances in the distribution of critical services.

 

Robustness and Resilience of cities around the world
Sofiane Abbar, Tahar Zanouda, Javier Borge-Holthoefer

http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.01709

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The fundamental advantages of temporal networks

Despite the traditional focus of network science on static networks, most networked systems of scientific interest are characterized by temporal links. By disrupting the paths, link temporality has been shown to frustrate many dynamical processes on networks, from information spreading to accessibility. Considering the ubiquity of temporal networks in nature, we must ask: Are there any advantages of the networks' temporality? Here we develop an analytical framework to explore the control properties of temporal networks, arriving at the counterintuitive conclusion that temporal networks, compared to their static (i.e. aggregated) counterparts, reach controllability faster, demand orders of magnitude less control energy, and the control trajectories, through which the system reaches its final states, are significantly more compact than those characterizing their static counterparts. The combination of analytical, numerical and empirical results demonstrates that temporality ensures a degree of flexibility that would be unattainable in static networks, significantly enhancing our ability to control them.

 

The fundamental advantages of temporal networks
Aming Li, Sean P. Cornelius, Yang-Yu Liu, Long Wang, Albert-László Barabási

http://arxiv.org/abs/1607.06168

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State power and elite autonomy: The board interlock network of Chinese non-profits

In response to failures of central planning, the Chinese government has experimented not only with free-market trade zones, but with allowing non-profit foundations to operate in a decentralized fashion. A network study shows how these foundations have connected together by sharing board members, in a structural parallel to what is seen in corporations in the United States. This board interlock leads to the emergence of an elite group with privileged network positions. While the presence of government officials on non-profit boards is widespread, state officials are much less common in a subgroup of foundations that control just over half of all revenue in the network. This subgroup, associated with business elites, not only enjoys higher levels of within-elite links, but even preferentially excludes government officials from the nodes with higher degree. The emergence of this structurally autonomous sphere is associated with major political and social events in the state-society relationship.

 

State power and elite autonomy: The board interlock network of Chinese non-profits
Ji Ma, Simon DeDeo

http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.08103

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Nominal Cellular Automata

The emerging field of Nominal Computation Theory is concerned with the theory of Nominal Sets and its applications to Computer Science. We investigate here the impact of nominal sets on the definition of Cellular Automata and on their computational capabilities, with a special focus on the emergent behavioural properties of this new model and their significance in the context of computation-oriented interpretations of physical phenomena. A preliminary investigation of the relations between Nominal Cellular Automata and Wolfram's Elementary Cellular Automata is also carried out.

 

Nominal Cellular Automata
Tommaso Bolognesi, Vincenzo Ciancia

http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.03320

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Perspectives on Multi-Level Dynamics

As Physics did in previous centuries, there is currently a common dream of extracting generic laws of nature in economics, sociology, neuroscience, by focalising the description of phenomena to a minimal set of variables and parameters, linked together by causal equations of evolution whose structure may reveal hidden principles. This requires a huge reduction of dimensionality (number of degrees of freedom) and a change in the level of description. Beyond the mere necessity of developing accurate techniques affording this reduction, there is the question of the correspondence between the initial system and the reduced one. In this paper, we offer a perspective towards a common framework for discussing and understanding multi-level systems exhibiting structures at various spatial and temporal levels. We propose a common foundation and illustrate it with examples from different fields. We also point out the difficulties in constructing such a general setting and its limitations.

 

Perspectives on Multi-Level Dynamics
Fatihcan M. Atay, Sven Banisch, Philippe Blanchard, Bruno Cessac, Eckehard Olbrich

http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.05665

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Closed-loop robots driven by short-term synaptic plasticity: Emergent explorative vs. limit-cycle locomotion

We examine the hypothesis, that short-term synaptic plasticity (STSP) may generate self-organized motor patterns. We simulated sphere-shaped autonomous robots, within the LPZRobots simulation package, containing three weights moving along orthogonal internal rods. The position of a weight is controlled by a single neuron receiving excitatory input from the sensor, measuring its actual position, and inhibitory inputs from the other two neurons. The inhibitory connections are transiently plastic, following physiologically inspired STSP-rules.
We find that a wide palette of motion patterns are generated through the interaction of STSP, robot, and environment (closed-loop configuration), including various forward meandering and circular motions, together with chaotic trajectories. The observed locomotion is robust with respect to additional interactions with obstacles. In the chaotic phase the robot is seemingly engaged in actively exploring its environment. We believe that our results constitute a concept of proof that transient synaptic plasticity, as described by STSP, may potentially be important for the generation of motor commands and for the emergence of complex locomotion patterns, adapting seamlessly also to unexpected environmental feedback.
Induced (by collisions) and spontaneous mode switching are observed. We find that locomotion may follow transiently unstable limit cycles. The degeneracy of the propagating state with respect to the direction of propagating is, in our analysis, one of the drivings for the chaotic wandering, which partly involves a smooth diffusion of the angle of propagation.

 

Closed-loop robots driven by short-term synaptic plasticity: Emergent explorative vs. limit-cycle locomotion
Laura Martin, Bulcsú Sándor, Claudius Gros

http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.02838

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Higher-order organization of complex networks

Networks are a fundamental tool for understanding and modeling complex systems in physics, biology, neuroscience, engineering, and social science. Many networks are known to exhibit rich, lower-order connectivity patterns that can be captured at the level of individual nodes and edges. However, higher-order organization of complex networks—at the level of small network subgraphs—remains largely unknown. Here, we develop a generalized framework for clustering networks on the basis of higher-order connectivity patterns. This framework provides mathematical guarantees on the optimality of obtained clusters and scales to networks with billions of edges. The framework reveals higher-order organization in a number of networks, including information propagation units in neuronal networks and hub structure in transportation networks. Results show that networks exhibit rich higher-order organizational structures that are exposed by clustering based on higher-order connectivity patterns.

 

Higher-order organization of complex networks
Austin R. Benson, David F. Gleich, Jure Leskovec

Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 163-166
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aad9029

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A multilayer approach to multiplexity and link prediction in online geo-social networks

Online social systems are multiplex in nature as multiple links may exist between the same two users across different social media. In this work, we study the geo-social properties of multiplex links, spanning more than one social network and apply their structural and interaction features to the problem of link prediction across social networking services. Exploring the intersection of two popular online platforms - Twitter and location-based social network Foursquare - we represent the two together as a composite multilayer online social network, where each platform represents a layer in the network. We find that pairs of users connected on both services, have greater neighbourhood similarity and are more similar in terms of their social and spatial properties on both platforms in comparison with pairs who are connected on just one of the social networks. Our evaluation, which aims to shed light on the implications of multiplexity for the link generation process, shows that we can successfully predict links across social networking services. In addition, we also show how combining information from multiple heterogeneous networks in a multilayer configuration can provide new insights into user interactions on online social networks, and can significantly improve link prediction systems with valuable applications to social bootstrapping and friend recommendations.

 

A multilayer approach to multiplexity and link prediction in online geo-social networks
Hristova D, Noulas A, Brown C, Musolesi M, Mascolo C
EPJ Data Science 2016, 5 :24 (26 July 2016)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1140/epjds/s13688-016-0087-z

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The mature stage of capitalist development: Models, signs and policy implications

•We fit capitalist development into four stages of natural dissipative systems.
•We develop a system model of autocatalytic growth and development.
•We identify four endogenous and two exogenous negative feedbacks that constrain economic growth and contextualize them in a system model.
•We identify economic variables that would mark the transition to maturity in a selected group of economies that industrialized first and in OECD.
•Empirical findings suggest that observed groups of economies may have entered the mature stage of development.

 

The mature stage of capitalist development: Models, signs and policy implications
Igor Matutinović, Stanley N. Salthe, Robert E. Ulanowicz

Structural Change and Economic Dynamics
Volume 39, December 2016, Pages 17–30

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.strueco.2016.06.001

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Open-Ended Evolution: Perspectives from the OEE Workshop in York

We describe the content and outcomes of the First Workshop on Open-Ended Evolution: Recent Progress and Future Milestones (OEE1), held during the ECAL 2015 conference at the University of York, UK, in July 2015. We briefly summarize the content of the workshop's talks, and identify the main themes that emerged from the open discussions. Two important conclusions from the discussions are: (1) the idea of pluralism about OEE—it seems clear that there is more than one interesting and important kind of OEE; and (2) the importance of distinguishing observable behavioral hallmarks of systems undergoing OEE from hypothesized underlying mechanisms that explain why a system exhibits those hallmarks. We summarize the different hallmarks and mechanisms discussed during the workshop, and list the specific systems that were highlighted with respect to particular hallmarks and mechanisms. We conclude by identifying some of the most important open research questions about OEE that are apparent in light of the discussions. The York workshop provides a foundation for a follow-up OEE2 workshop taking place at the ALIFE XV conference in Cancún, Mexico, in July 2016. Additional materials from the York workshop, including talk abstracts, presentation slides, and videos of each talk, are available at http://alife.org/ws/oee1

 

Open-Ended Evolution: Perspectives from the OEE Workshop in York
Tim Taylor, Mark Bedau, Alastair Channon, et al.

Artificial Life

http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/ARTL_a_00210

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How Structured Is the Entangled Bank? The Surprisingly Simple Organization of Multiplex Ecological Networks Leads to Increased Persistence and Resilience

How Structured Is the Entangled Bank? The Surprisingly Simple Organization of Multiplex Ecological Networks Leads to Increased Persistence and Resilience | Papers | Scoop.it

Within an ecosystem, species interact with each other in many different ways, including predation, competition, and facilitation, and this can be modelled as a network of multiple interaction types. The variety of interaction types that link species to each other has long been recognized but has rarely been synthesized for entire multi-species ecosystems. Here, we leverage a unique marine ecological network that integrates thousands of trophic and non-trophic interactions. We show that, despite its multidimensional complexity, this ecological network collapses into a small set of “functional groups,” i.e., groups of species that resemble each other in the way they interact with others in their combined trophic and non-trophic interactions. These groups are taxonomically coherent and predictable by species attributes. Moreover, dynamic simulations suggest that the way the different interaction types relate to each other allows for higher species persistence and higher total biomass than is expected by chance alone, and that this tends to promote a higher robustness to extinctions. Our results will help to guide future empirical studies and to develop a more general theory of the dynamics of complex ecological systems.

 

Kéfi S, Miele V, Wieters EA, Navarrete SA, Berlow EL (2016) How Structured Is the Entangled Bank? The Surprisingly Simple Organization of Multiplex Ecological Networks Leads to Increased Persistence and Resilience. PLoS Biol 14(8): e1002527. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002527


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Eric L Berlow's curator insight, August 7, 1:35 AM
Species are linked to each other by a myriad of positive and negative interactions. This complex spectrum of interactions constitutes a network of links that mediates ecological communities’ response to perturbations, such as exploitation and climate change. In the last decades, there have been great advances in the study of intricate ecological networks. We have, nonetheless, lacked both the data and the tools to more rigorously understand the patterning of multiple interaction types between species (i.e., “multiplex networks”), as well as their consequences for community dynamics. Using network statistical modeling applied to a comprehensive ecological network, which includes trophic and diverse non-trophic links, we provide a first glimpse at what the full “entangled bank” of species looks like. The community exhibits clear multidimensional structure, which is taxonomically coherent and broadly predictable from species traits. Moreover, dynamic simulations suggest that this non-random patterning of how diverse non-trophic interactions map onto the food web could allow for higher species persistence and higher total biomass than expected by chance and tends to promote a higher robustness to extinctions.