What does the evolution of life, the dynamics of traffic jams, the distribution of earthquakes, the fluctuation of the stock market, the dynamics of social networks, the formation of patterns, the weather, mass extinctions, the behavior of insect colonies, the properties of the brain, and the spread of disease, etc have in common?

The basic laws of physics are simple, so why is the world so complex? The theory of self-organized criticality proposes that complex behavior in nature emerges from the dynamics of extended, dissipative systems that evolve through a sequence of meta-stable states into a critical state, with long range spatial and temporal correlations. Minor disturbances lead to intermittent events of all sizes. These events organize the system into a complex state that cannot be reduced to a few degrees of freedom. This type of punctuated equilibrium dynamics has been observed in astrophysical, geophysical and biological processes, as well as in human social activity.

Self-Organization and Emergence

Self-Organization is the spontaneous emergence of large-scale spatial, temporal, or spatiotemporal order in a system of locally interacting, relatively simple components.

Alternatively, self-organization is a bottom-up process where complex organization emerges at multiple levels from the interaction of lower-level entities. The final product is the result of nonlinear interactions rather than planning and design, and is not known a priori.

Contrast this with the standard, top-down engineering design paradigm where planning precedes implementation, and the desired final system is known by design.

Emergence is the appearance of large-scale collective order that cannot be described completely in terms of the individual system components. For example  
a meaning from a collection of words,
a society from a collection of individuals,
a wave from a collection of particles,
a picture from a collection of pixels

Emergence seeks to move beyond pure reductionism without resorting to metaphysical explanations, e.g., in explaining phenomena such as intelligence and life.

Complex adaptive systems exhibit spontaneous emergence at many levels of description.

We will discuss topics like chaos, fractals, scaling and self-similarity, iterated function systems, pattern formation, 
self-organized networks, self-organized criticality, complex adaptive systems and emergence.

No prerequisites.  The class instructor will contact you within 72 hours of registration.

Instructor: Professor John Boccio, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics, Swarthmore College

Class Website: Agnes Scott College Lifelong Learning Program

Dates: In-Person Class: Saturday afternoons 2:30PM-5:30PM on
09/10/22, 09/17/22, 09/24/22, 10/01/22, 10/08/22,  10/15/22, 10/22/22, 10/29/22

Class fee: $100.00

Location: Bullock Science Center, Teasley Lecture Hall

Questions: Contact John Boccio boccio@me.com


Event Details

User Activity

No recent activity