Complex Adaptive Systems and the Threshold Effect: Views from the Natural and Social Sciences: Papers from the AAAI Fall Symposium
Mirsad Hadzikadic and Ted Carmichael, Cochairs
Most interesting phenomena in natural and social systems include transitions and oscillations among their various phases. Companies, societies, markets, and humans rarely stay in a stable, predictable state for long. Randomness, power laws, and human behavior ensure that the future is both unknown and challenging. How do events unfold? When do they take hold? Why do some initial events cause an avalanche while others do not? What are the characteristics of these threshold phenomena that differentiate a sea change from a nonevent?
Complex adaptive systems (CAS) and related technologies have proven to be powerful tools for exploring threshold phenomena. We characterize a general CAS model as having a significant number of self-similar agents that utilize one or more levels of feedback; exhibit emergent properties and self-organization; produce nonlinear dynamic behavior.
Advances in modeling and computing technology, including CAS, have led to a deeper understanding of complex systems in many fields in the natural, physical, and social sciences. These developments have raised the possibility that similar fundamental principles may be at work across these systems, even though the underlying principles may manifest themselves in different ways. This symposium included researchers across a wide range of disciplines, in the belief that a deep understanding in one domain may lead to greater insight into others.