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Please note that the paper "An Information-Theoretic Primer On Complexity, Self-Organisation And Emergence" (by Prokopenko, Boschetti and Ryan) has been submitted to Advances in Complex Systems, and is currently under review.


--George McC 07:29, 11 January 2007 (PST)

Hello Fabio - and the other authors,

A good primer - a problem I find (on a personal level) with this sort of paper is that although I am all for clarifying what we mean by various terms and ensuring there is minimal scope for misunderstanding, the reality is that wher I have already formed a view of what I mean by a term, say emergence, then although I read what is written I come out the other end still believing what I thought to start with! I suspect that is a wider problem than just mine - we each have our own world views and it takes a bit to shift them.

I tend to think that is not a problem iff you are comfortable with the fact that this is the case and are still able to map your mental model onto other's mental models. Too often this is not the case, where what are semantic differences get in the way of meaningful dialogue.

Anyway, just one other comment that was triggered by reading this - one of the purposes of the symposium is to bring together people from different backgrounds in order to increase the cross-fertilisation in this field. You are clearly influenced heavily by the "Santa Fe Complexity" (you state as much in the paper) and that is fine. However, when doing my own research I was aware of a lack of understanding between the people who had come at complex systems from that direction and those who had come at it from the systems theoretic side.

This is not unlike the systems engineering field where those who come at it from the engineering side have a quite different take on things from those coming from the systems side - many a long debate has ensued within INCOSE about that. One person who has some good things to say about this issue is Steven Phelan - he also has published a paper specifically on the distinction between complexity and systems theory and I think this type of input should be made into any attempt to 'clarify' the language.