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Entropy 2012, 14(2), 177-212; doi:10.3390/e14020177

Disentangling Complexity from Randomness and Chaos

Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, CB2 3RH Cambridge, UK
Received: 27 December 2011 / Revised: 26 January 2012 / Accepted: 31 January 2012 / Published: 7 February 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arrow of Time)
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This study aims to disentangle complexity from randomness and chaos, and to present a definition of complexity that emphasizes its epistemically distinct qualities. I will review existing attempts at defining complexity and argue that these suffer from two major faults: a tendency to neglect the underlying dynamics and to focus exclusively on the phenomenology of complex systems; and linguistic imprecisions in describing these phenomenologies. I will argue that the tendency to discuss phenomenology removed from the underlying dynamics is the main root of the difficulties in distinguishing complex from chaotic or random systems. In my own definition, I will explicitly try to avoid these pitfalls. The theoretical contemplations in this paper will be tested on a sample of five models: the random Kac ring, the chaotic CA30, the regular CA90, the complex CA110 and the complex Bak-Sneppen model. Although these modelling studies are restricted in scope and can only be seen as preliminary, they still constitute on of the first attempts to investigate complex systems comparatively.
Keywords: complexity; complexity definition; entropy complexity; complexity definition; entropy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Zuchowski, L.C. Disentangling Complexity from Randomness and Chaos. Entropy 2012, 14, 177-212.

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