Complexity Digest 2012.01
Editor-in-Chief: Carlos Gershenson
Founding Editor: Gottfried Mayer
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- Crisis response: The new history, Nature
- Stop Signals Provide Cross Inhibition in Collective Decision-Making by Honeybee Swarms, Science
- The Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data Means Better Science, PLoS Biol
- To Know, but Not Understand: David Weinberger on Science and Big Data, The Atlantic
- Paddy Ashdown: The global power shift, TED.com
- A Human Development Framework for CO2 Reductions, PLoS ONE
- Failure of Adaptive Self-Organized Criticality during Epileptic Seizure Attacks, PLoS Comput Biol
- The Economic Productivity of Urban Areas: Disentangling General Scale Effects from Local Exceptionality, SFI Working Papers
- Effective Theories for Circuits and Automata, SFI Working Papers
- Predictability of Evolutionary Trajectories in Fitness Landscapes, PLoS Comput Biol
- Unraveling the Obesity-Cancer Connection, Science
- Ohm‚Äôs Law Survives to the Atomic Scale, Science
- Causal Effects for Prediction and Deliberative Decision Making of Embodied Systems, SFI Working Papers
- Cooperation, structure, and hierarchy in multiadaptive games, Phys. Rev. E
- Computer Runtimes and the Length of Proofs: On an Algorithmic Probabilistic Application to Waiting Times in Automatic Theorem Proving, arXiv
- Incentives and regulations in bike-sharing systems with stations of finite capacity, arXiv
- Chemotaxis when Bacteria Remember: Drift versus Diffusion, PLoS Comput Biol
- How comedy audiences learned to laugh with science, rather than at it, The Guardian
- Book Announcements
- Coherence in the Midst of Complexity: Advances in Social Complexity Theory, Palgrave Macmillan
- Networks, Complexity and Internet Regulation: Scale-Free Law, Edward Elgar Pub
- Creating Consilience: Integrating the Sciences and the Humanities, Oxford University Press
- Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done, Perigee Trade
- Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You Need to Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy, Little, Brown and Company
- Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics, Wiley
- Links & Snippets
- Other Publications
- Event Announcements
- Video Announcements
- Other Announcements
Crisis response: The new history, Nature
Excerpt: The nature of discontinuous change is often misunderstood. It is sometimes said ‚Ä" this is literally how traditional economists defend their failure to predict the ongoing financial and national-debt crises ‚Ä" that no one can be expected to foresee such radical departures from the quotidian. They emerge, like a hijacked aircraft, out of a clear blue sky. Yet social and political discontinuities are rarely, if ever, random in that sense, even if their immediate triggers have a certain arbitrary character. Rather, they are abrupt in the same way, and for the same reasons, that phase transitions are abrupt in physics. In complex systems, including social ones, discontinuities don't reflect profound changes in the governing forces; they derive from the interactions and feedbacks between the component parts. Discontinuities are therefore precisely what you would expect if you consider today's societies from a complex-systems perspective.
Stop Signals Provide Cross Inhibition in Collective Decision-Making by Honeybee Swarms, Science
Abstract: Honeybee swarms and complex brains show many parallels in how they make decisions. In both, separate populations of units (bees or neurons) integrate noisy evidence for alternatives, and, when one population exceeds a threshold, the alternative it represents is chosen. We show that a key feature of a brain‚Ä"cross inhibition between the evidence-accumulating populations‚Ä"also exists in a swarm as it chooses its nesting site. Nest-site scouts send inhibitory stop signals to other scouts producing waggle dances, causing them to cease dancing, and each scout targets scouts‚Äô reporting sites other than her own. An analytic model shows that cross inhibition between populations of scout bees increases the reliability of swarm decision-making by solving the problem of deadlock over equal sites.
The Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data Means Better Science, PLoS Biol
Excerpt: Data provides the evidence for the published body of scientific knowledge, which is the foundation for all scientific progress. The more data is made openly available in a useful manner, the greater the level of transparency and reproducibility and hence the more efficient the scientific process becomes, to the benefit of society. This viewpoint is becoming mainstream among many funders, publishers, scientists, and other stakeholders in research, but barriers to achieving widespread publication of open data remain. The Open Data in Science working group at the Open Knowledge Foundation is a community that works to develop tools, applications, datasets, and guidelines to promote the open sharing of scientific data.
To Know, but Not Understand: David Weinberger on Science and Big Data, The Atlantic
Thomas Jefferson and George Washington recorded daily weather observations, but they didn't record them hourly or by the minute. Not only did they have other things to do, such data didn't seem useful. Even after the invention of the telegraph enabled the centralization of weather data, the 150 volunteers who received weather instruments from the Smithsonian Institution in 1849 still reported only once a day. Now there is a literally immeasurable, continuous stream of climate data from satellites circling the earth, buoys bobbing in the ocean, and Wi-Fi-enabled sensors in the rain forest. We are measuring temperatures, rainfall, wind speeds, C02 levels, and pressure pulses of solar wind. All this data and much, much more became worth recording once we could record it, once we could process it with computers, and once we could connect the data streams and the data processors with a network.
How will we ever make sense of scientific topics that are too big to know? The short answer: by transforming what it means to know something scientifically.
Paddy Ashdown: The global power shift, TED.com
About this talk: Paddy Ashdown claims that we are living in a moment in history where power is changing in ways it never has before. In a spellbinding talk at TEDxBrussels he outlines the three major global shifts that he sees coming.
A Human Development Framework for CO2 Reductions, PLoS ONE
Excerpt: Consensus emerging in favor of low CO2 stabilization targets requires the participation of developing countries in the efforts to reduce global green-house emissions . For example, it has been claimed that in order to keep global temperatures below a 2¬įC increase, developing countries should attain more than 20 % CO2 reductions below business-as-usual levels by the year 2020 . The potential implications of such reductions on development standards remain unclear  as developing countries are expected to extensively rely on fossil energy to fuel their current development needs (‚Ä¶)
Failure of Adaptive Self-Organized Criticality during Epileptic Seizure Attacks, PLoS Comput Biol
Excerpt: Over the recent years it has become apparent that the concept of phase transitions is not only applicable to the systems classically considered in physics. It applies to a much wider class of complex systems exhibiting phases, characterized by qualitatively different types of long-term behavior. In the critical states, which are located directly at the transition, small changes can have a large effect on the system. This and other properties of critical states prove to be advantageous for computation and memory. It is therefore suspected that also cerebral neural networks operate close to criticality. (‚Ä¶) Here we show that brain dynamics deviates from a critical state during epileptic seizure attacks in vivo. Furthermore, insights from a computational model suggest seizures to be caused by the failure of adaptive self-organized criticality (‚Ä¶)
The Economic Productivity of Urban Areas: Disentangling General Scale Effects from Local Exceptionality, SFI Working Papers
Excerpt: The factors that explain differences in the economic productivity of urban areas have remained difficult to measure and identify unambiguously. Here we show that a synthesis of the classical representation of economic activity in a city in terms of a production function, together with a scaling perspective that accounts for the systematic effects of population size, leads to a new expression for the Total Factor Productivity (TFP) of urban areas. We empirically demonstrate that there is a systematic dependence of urban productivity on population size, resulting from the mismatch between the size dependence of wages and labor, so productivity increases by about 11% with each doubling in population.
Effective Theories for Circuits and Automata, SFI Working Papers
Abstract: Abstracting an effective theory from a complicated process is central to the study of complexity. Even when the underlying mechanisms are understood, or at least measurable, the presence of dissipation and irreversibility in biological, computational and social systems makes the problem harder. Here we demonstrate the construction of effective theories in the presence of both irreversibility and noise, in a dynamical model with underlying feedback. We use the Krohn-Rhodes theorem to show how the composition of underlying mechanisms can lead to innovations in the emergent effective theory. We show how dissipation and irreversibility fundamentally limit the lifetimes of these emergent structures, even though, on short timescales, the group properties may be enriched compared to their noiseless counterparts.
Predictability of Evolutionary Trajectories in Fitness Landscapes, PLoS Comput Biol
Excerpt: Is evolution deterministic, hence predictable, or stochastic, that is unpredictable? What would happen if one could ‚Äúreplay the tape of evolution‚ÄĚ: will the outcomes of evolution be completely different or is evolution so constrained that history will be repeated? Arguably, these questions are among the most intriguing and most difficult in evolutionary biology. In other words, the predictability of evolution depends on the fraction of the trajectories on fitness landscapes that are accessible for evolutionary exploration.
Unraveling the Obesity-Cancer Connection, Science
Summary: A growing body of research shows that insulin and a related hormone play a key role in fueling tumors. They also may be a link between obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
Ohm‚Äôs Law Survives to the Atomic Scale, Science
Abstract: As silicon electronics approaches the atomic scale, interconnects and circuitry become comparable in size to the active device components. Maintaining low electrical resistivity at this scale is challenging because of the presence of conÔ¨Āning surfaces and interfaces. We report on the fabrication of wires in silicon‚Ä"only one atom tall and four atoms wide‚Ä"with exceptionally low resistivity (~0.3 milliohm-centimeters) and the current-carrying capabilities of copper. By embedding phosphorus atoms within a silicon crystal with an average spacing of less than 1 nanometer, we achieved a diameter-independent resistivity, which demonstrates ohmic scaling to the atomic limit. Atomistic tight-binding calculations conÔ¨Ārm the metallicity of these atomic-scale wires, which pave the way for single-atom device architectures for both classical and quantum information processing.
Causal Effects for Prediction and Deliberative Decision Making of Embodied Systems, SFI Working Papers
Abstract: This article deals with the causal structure of an agent‚Äôs sensori-motor loop and its relation to deliberative decision making. Of particular interest are causal effects that can be identified from an agent-centric perspective based on in situ observations. Within this identification, an optimal world model of the agent plays a central role. Its optimality is characterized in terms of prediction quality.
Cooperation, structure, and hierarchy in multiadaptive games, Phys. Rev. E
Excerpt: Game-theoretical models where the rules of the game and the interaction structure both coevolve with the game dynamics‚Ä"multiadaptive games‚Ä"capture very flexible situations where cooperation among selfish agents can emerge. In this work, we will discuss a multiadaptive model presented in a recent Letter [ Phys. Rev. Lett. 106 028702 (2011)] as well as generalizations of it. The model captures a nonequilibrium situation where social unrest increases the incentive to cooperate and, simultaneously, agents are partly free to influence with whom they interact.
Computer Runtimes and the Length of Proofs: On an Algorithmic Probabilistic Application to Waiting Times in Automatic Theorem Proving, arXiv
Abstract: This paper is an experimental exploration of the relationship between the runtimes of Turing machines and the length of proofs in formal axiomatic systems. We compare the number of halting Turing machines of a given size to the number of provable theorems of first-order logic of a given size, and the runtime of the longest-running Turing machine of a given size to the proof length of the most-difficult-to-prove theorem of a given size. It is suggested that theorem provers are subject to the same non-linear tradeoff between time and size as computer programs are, affording the possibility of determining optimal timeouts and waiting times in automatic theorem proving. I provide the statistics for some small choices of parameters for both of these systems.
Incentives and regulations in bike-sharing systems with stations of finite capacity, arXiv
Excerpt: As of 2011, more than 200 cities around the world have a bike sharing system. In such a system, users arrive at a station, use the bike for a while and return the bike to another station. This paper presents a model taking account of the finite number of bike locations at the stations. In case of symmetry, as the system gets large, the mean field limit provides an insight of the system behavior. (‚Ä¶) We show that simple incentives, such as suggesting users to return to the least loaded station among two, improve dramatically the situation. An asymmetric scenario is also investigated. In that case, simple incentives are not enough and regulation mechanisms, such as redistribution of the bikes by trucks, are needed.
Chemotaxis when Bacteria Remember: Drift versus Diffusion, PLoS Comput Biol
Excerpt: The chemotaxis of Escherichia coli is a prototypical model of navigational strategy. The bacterium maneuvers by switching between near-straight motion, termed runs, and tumbles which reorient its direction. To reach regions of high nutrient concentration, the run-durations are modulated according to the nutrient concentration experienced in recent past. This navigational strategy is quite general, in that the mathematical description of these modulations also accounts for the active motility of C. elegans and for thermotaxis in Escherichia coli.
How comedy audiences learned to laugh with science, rather than at it, The Guardian
Excerpt: Is there something funny about science? Audiences at Robin Ince's seasonal slice of rationalist revelry, Nine Carols and Songs for Godless People, seemed to think so. This annual event, at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, is far more a celebration of the wonders of science than an exercise in atheistic God-baiting. In fact, God gets a rather easy ride: the bad science of tabloids, fundamentalists, quacks and climate-change sceptics provides richer comic fodder.
Coherence in the Midst of Complexity: Advances in Social Complexity Theory, Palgrave Macmillan
Summary: Complexity and emergence (the appearance and impact of the new) can be the bane of managers and their organizations. Both complexity and emergence threaten to upset adherence to predefined categories, which supposedly allows for efficiency. Indeed, traditional management thinking focuses on a retrospective coherence where ideas and events are assigned to categories, the categories are labelled, and outliers are treated as statistical deviants. The study of how such attributed (retrospective) sense-making breaks down in and around organizations is the focus of social complexity theory. (...)
Networks, Complexity and Internet Regulation: Scale-Free Law, Edward Elgar Pub
Summary: Complexity theory as a subject has gained increasing prominence across numerous disciplines including physics, biology, sociology and economics. Large interconnected systems such as the Internet display a number of inherent architectural characteristics deeming them well-suited to the study of complex dynamic networks. This important book uses various network science-based tools to explore the contentious issue of Internet regulation. The author demonstrates that the Internet as a global communications space is a self-organizing entity. In order to illustrate how the world wide web operates, case studies in copyright policy, peer-production and cyber crime are presented. (...)
Creating Consilience: Integrating the Sciences and the Humanities, Oxford University Press
Summary: Calls for a "consilient" or "vertically integrated" approach to the study of human mind and culture have, for the most part, been received by scholars in the humanities with either indifference or hostility. One reason for this is that consilience has often been framed as bringing the study of humanistic issues into line with the study of non-human phenomena, rather than as something to which humanists and scientists contribute equally. The other major reason that consilience has yet to catch on in the humanities is a dearth of compelling examples of the benefits of adopting a consilient approach. (...)
Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done, Perigee Trade
Summary: Drawing on diverse studies of the mind, from psychology to linguistics, philosophy, and learning science, Markman demonstrates the difference between "smart thinking" and raw intelligence, showing readers how memory works, how to learn effectively, and how to use knowledge to get things done. He then introduces his own three-part formula for readers to employ "smart thinking" in their daily lives. This book gives readers the means to replace self-limiting habits with new behaviors that foster smart thinking, an understanding of the mind itself as well as memory, the ability to define and solve problems by finding and applying relevant knowledge.
Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You Need to Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy, Little, Brown and Company
Summary: This book guides readers through the surprising solutions to dozens of the most challenging interview questions. The book covers the importance of creative thinking, ways to get a leg up on the competition, what your Facebook page says about you, and much more. Poundstone offers strategies for making the best of nerve-racking situations, decoding interviewer's hidden agendas, and salvaging a doomed interview, in a solid treatment peppered with mind-bending puzzles.
Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics, Wiley
Summary: In a no holds barred expose of the 2008 financial meltdown from the inside, Abdelnour argues that the political and financial elites have done nothing to fix the structural problems and instead have worsened the situation. By creating more market bubbles, they are actually waging a war on the most productive members of society. For investors, business people, and entrepreneurs that need to navigate the troubled geopolitical waters of the post-crisis world, Abdelnour offers several solutions, including looking at the world anew and providing new insights for investors and business people looking to create wealth in the turbulent post-crisis world.
Links & Snippets
- Dynamics of Mutant Cells in Hierarchical Organized Tissues, Werner B, Dingli D, Lenaerts T, Pacheco JM, Traulsen A, 2011/12/1, PLoS Comput Biol 7(12): e1002290, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002290
- On the Dynamic Qualitative Behaviour of Universal Computation, Hector Zenil, 2012/01/04, arXiv:1201.0824
- VI Congreso Bienal Internacional Complejidad 2012, Havana, Cuba, 2012/01/10-13
- 38th International Conference on Current Trends in Theory and Practice of Computer Science, Ň†pindlerŇĮv Ml√Ĺn, Czech Republic, 2012/01/21-27
- 4th International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence - ICAART 2012, Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal, 2012/02/6-8
- WIVACE 2012 Italian Workshop on Artificial Life and Evolutionary Computation "Artificial Life, Evolution and Complexity" , Parma, Italy, 2012/02/20-21
- 3rd Workshop on Complex Networks, Melbourne, Florida, USA, 2012/03/7-9
- evostar - the main european events on evolutionary computation eurogp, evocop, evobio, evomusart and evoapplications, M√°laga, Spain, 2012/03/11-13
- 9th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (Evolang IX), Kyoto, Japan, 2012/03/13-16
- IWSOS'12 (Sixth International Workshop on Self-Organizing Systems), Delft, The Netherlands, 2012/03/15-16
- 5th International Nonlinear Science Conference 2012, Barcelona, Spain, 2011/03/15-17
- IPCAT 2012: Ninth International Conference on Information Processing in Cells and Tissues, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2012/03/31-04/02
- 21st European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research, Vienna, Austria, 2012/04/10-13
- Collective Intelligence 2012, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2012/04/18-20
- 1st Annual Conference on Complexity and Human Experience: Modeling Complexity in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Charlotte, NC, USA, 2012/05/30-06/01
- 2012 IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence, Brisbane, Australia, 2012/06/10-15
- CiE 2012 Turing Centenary conference: How the World Computes, Cambridge, UK, 2012/06/18-23
- Cellular Automata Algorithms & Architectures (CAAA 2012), Madrid, Spain, 2012/07/2-6
- GECCO 2012, Philadelphia, USA, 2012/07/7-11
- 25th European Conference on Operational Research, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012/07/8-11
- ALife XIII: The Thirteenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, Lansig, Michigan, USA, 2012/08/19-22
- 12th International Conference on Parallel Problem Solving From Nature (PPSN2012), Taormina, Italy, 2012/09/1-5
- ECCS'12: European Conference on Complex Systems, Brussels, Belgium, 2012/09/3-7
- Interdisciplinary Symposium on Complex Systems, Kos island, Greece, 2012/09/19-25
- 10th International Conference on Cellular Automata for Research and Industry (ACRI 2012), Santorini Island, Greece, 2012/09/24-27
- IBERAMIA 2012: 13th Ibero-American Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, 2012/11/13-16
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One of the main goals of the ASSYST Coordination Action is to promote Complex Systems for Socially Intelligent ICT (COSI-ICT) and, more generally, Complex Systems (CS) Science in Europe and Worldwide. We do this by communicating widely with scientists, policy makers, and business people, and by showcasing success stories of CS applications.
- Job openings in Complex Systems
- Modelling and Physics of Complex Systems, MSc & PhD Programme, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain.
- Research Positions in Complex Systems
The New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) has openings for postdoctoral appointments, and scholarships for research supervision in the study of complex systems.
- Call for Papers: Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History
Friends of Complexity Theory in Cuba, inlcudes Revista Pensando la Complejidad.
- DDLab, new release available! DDLab is a free set of tools for researching cellular automata, random Boolean networks, multi-value discrete dynamical networks, and beyond. See introductory video.
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