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Complexity Theory

  • By: Christine Drennon
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The umbrella term complexity theory is used to explain complex adaptive systems, which are systems composed of a large number of interacting components, or agents, whose aggregate activity is nonlinear (and thus not predictable) and out of which order emerges. The study of “complexity” recognizes that the way the individual parts of a system interact may give us more insight into the entire system than the study of its individual agents, thus the focus turns to the relationships between agents, as opposed to the agents themselves; in this way, the study of complexity may be closer to an approach than it is to a theory.

The study of complex systems and the tools developed to analyze such systems has roots in distributed artificial intelligence, in ...

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