8 The Tyranny of Many Dimensionless Constants: A Constraint on Knowability

  • Bruce J. West
Section III Differing Views of Uncertainty and Surprise
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


My talk today is concerned with one particular aspect of knowability having to do with the modeling and simulation of complex phenomena. This approach is based on dimensional analysis and I hope to show how dimensionless constants can be used to quantify the complexity of systems and indirectly show the difficulty associated with extracting information and knowledge from such phenomenon.


Froude Number Euler Number Dimensionless Constant Hard Science Analytical Mathematical Model 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce J. West
    • 1
  1. 1.Mathematics Division, U.S. Army Research Office, Research Triangle Park, NC 

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