Complex Systems and the Humanities

Image by Erzsébet Ravasz Regan, http://regan.med.harvard.edu/hierarchy.php.

Complex Systems and the Humanities Director: Bill Kretzschmar, Harry and Jane Willson Professor in Humanities, Department of English Description A complex system is a system in which large networks of components with no central control and simple rules of operation give rise to complex collective behavior, sophisticated information processing, and adaptation via learning or evolution. Complexity science has proven useful in research on evolutionary biology, quantum physics, ecology, among others. An ant hill is a complex system, and so is the human immune system. Human culture is also a complex system: people interact, share information, and cultural patterns emerge as a result of feedback in the system. An economic market is a human complex system, and so is human language. The order that emerges in human language is simply the configuration of components, whether particular words, pronunciations, or constructions, that comes to occur in our communities and occasions for speech and writing. Complex Systems and the Humanities is an effort to promote the study of complex systems at UGA. Image by Erzsébet Ravasz Regan, http://regan.med.harvard.edu/hierarchy.php.

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