Mark Buchanan
NEXUS

Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks

W.W.Norton 2002
pg 12




" The purpose of science is to find meaningful simplicity in the midst of disorderly complexity".

Herbert Simon

Keywords : Reductionism - pattern of organisation - water freezing point - phase transition: this abrupt change in state involves no alteration of the molecules themselves, but rather a transformation in the subtle organisation of the network of their interactions - networks - interaction - architecture of networks






pg 15

...for centuries scientists have been taking nature apart and analysing its pieces in ever-increasing detail. By now it is hardly necessary to point out that this process of "reduction" can take understanding only so far. Learn all want about the structure and properties of a single water molecule, for example, and you will still have no inkling that the collection of them will be a liquid at 1degree Celsius and a solid at -1 C. This abrupt change in state involves no alteration of the molecules themselves, but rather a transformation in the subtle organisation of the network of their interactions.

In an ecosystem or economy, the same distinction holds true. No amount of information at the level of the individual species or economic agent can hope to reveal the pattern of organisation that make the collective function as it does. Today the most fascinating and pressing problems almost invariably centre on efforts to unravel the delicate and intricate organisation of networks of bewildering complexity.





pg 18

complexity theory

...the study of networks as part of the general area of science known as complexity theory. In an abstract sense, any collection of interacting parts - from atoms and molecules to bacteria, pedestrians, traders on the stock market floor, and even nations - represents a kind of substance. Regardless of what it is made of, that substance satisfies certain laws of form, the discovery of which is the aim of complexity theory.

Some scientists have disparaged the search for a general science of complexity as a pipedream, and yet the ideas of the core of this book reveal that there can indeed be sounded specific principles of complexity theory. Some of the deepest truths of our world may turn out to be truths about organisation, rather than about what kinds of things make up the world and now those things behave as individuals.

Scientists are beginning to learn how to talk meaningfully about the architecture of networks of all kinds, and to perceive important patterns and regularities where they could see none before.







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