• George E. Mobus
  • Michael C. Kalton
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


Complexity is another key concept in understanding systems, but it is not an easy concept to define. There are many approaches to understanding complexity and we will review several representatives. However, we make a commitment to a definition that we feel is most compatible with the breadth of systems science, Herb Simon’s (The science of the artificial. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996) concept of a decomposable hierarchy (as explained in Chap. 3). Systems that have many levels of organization are, generally speaking, more complex. This definition will come into play in later chapters, especially Chaps. 10 and 11 where we look at how complexity increases over time. Toward the end of the chapter, we examine some of the downside of higher complexity, especially as it affects modern civilization.


Chaotic System Cellular Automaton Cellular Automaton Central Processing Unit Chaos Theory 
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.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  1. Casti JL (1994) Complexification: explaining a paradoxical world through the science of surprise. Harper Collins, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Fuster JM (1995) Memory in the cerebral cortex. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  3. Gleick J (1987) Chaos: making a new science. Penguin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Gribbin J (2004) Deep simplicity: bringing order out of chaos and complexity. Random House, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Langton CG et al (eds) (1992) Artificial life. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Mandelbrot BB (1982) The fractal geometry of nature. W. H. Freeman and Co., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Margulis L, Sagan D (2000) What is life?. University of California Press, Los Angeles, CAGoogle Scholar
  8. Mitchell M (2009) Complexity: a guided tour. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Moore J (2003) Chemistry for dummies. Wiley Publications, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Morowitz HJ (1992) Beginnings of cellular life: metabolism recapitulates biogenesis. Yale University Press, New Haven, CTGoogle Scholar
  11. Nicolis G, Prigogine I (1989) Exploring complexity: an introduction. W.H. Freeman & Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Prigogine I, Stengers I (1984) Order out of chaos: man’s new dialogue with nature. Bantam Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Simon HA (1996) The science of the artificial. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  14. Striedter GF (2005) Principles of brain evolution. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, MAGoogle Scholar
  15. Tainter JA (1988) The collapse of complex societies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  16. Weaver W (1948) Science and complexity. Am Sci 36:536–544. Accessed Jan 2013
  17. Wolfram S (2002) A new kind of science. Wolfram Media Inc., Champaign, ILGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • George E. Mobus
    • 1
  • Michael C. Kalton
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty in Computer Science & Systems, Computer Engineering & Systems Institute of TechnologyUniversity of Washington TacomaTacomaUSA
  2. 2.Faculty in Interdisciplinary Arts & SciencesUniversity of Washington TacomaTacomaUSA

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