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. Complex behavior can occur in any system made up of large numbers of interacting constituents, be they atoms in a solid, cells in a living organism, or consumers in a national economy. Scientific theories about this behavior typically involve many assumptions and approximations. Foundations of Complex-system Theories analyzes and compares, for the first time, the key ideas and general methods used in studying complexity in the physical, biological, and social sciences. It highlights the features common to the three areas, clarifies conceptual confusions, and provides a nontechnical introduction to how we understand and deal with complexity.

The book begins with a description of the nature of complexity. The author then examines a range of important concepts: situated individuals, composite systems, collective phenomena, emergent properties, chaotic dynamics, stochastic processes. Each topic is illustrated by extended examples from statistical physics, evolutionary biology, and economics. What the sciences investigate are very different, but how the sciences address their topics has certain general commonality, which illustrates, among other things, the general structure of our theoretical reason.

Besides the three sciences, the book also examines several mathematical theories widely used in complexity research: nonlinear and chaotic dynamics, the calculus of probability and stochastic processes. It lays out the conceptual structures of these mathematics and explains what make them so powerful. By exposing the common conceptual foundation of deterministic dynamics and stochastic processes, it refutes both the doctrines of determinisim and chance.

This detailed yet nontechnical book will appeal to anyone who wants to know more about complex systems. It will also be of great interest to philosophers engaged in scientific methodology and specialists studying complexity in the physical, biological, and social sciences. 

 
     
   
 

Contents

 
 
1. Introduction
1. Synthetic Microanalysis of Complex Systems
2. Topics, Theories, Categories
3. Economics, Evolutionary Biology, Statistical Physics

PART I. EQUILIBRIUM

2. Theories of Composite Systems
4. The World in Many Levels of Description
5. Deductive Construction of Small Systems
6. Synthetic Microanalysis of Large Systems
7. Idealization, Approximation, Model
8. Federal Versus Imperial Unity of Science
9. Equilibrium and Optimization
3. Individuals: Systems and Constituents
10. An Individual and Its Possibilities
11. The Integrity of the Topic of Statistical Mechanics
12. The Unit of Evolution and the Unit of Selection
13. Economic Individuals as Ideal Optimizers
4. Situated Individuals and the Situation
14. Independent-Individual Approximations
15. Single Particles in the Self-Consistent Field
16. Price Takers in the Competitive Market
17. Fitness, Adaptation, and the Environment
5. Interacting Individuals and Collective Phenomena
18. Intermediate Layers of Structure and Individuals
19. Collective Excitations and Their Coupling
20. Economic Institutions and Industrial Organization
21. Population Structure and the Evolution of Altruism
6. Macro Individuals and Emergent Properties
22. Emergent Characters of the System as a Whole
23. Self-Organization in Phase Transition
24. Adaptive-Organization of Biological Systems
25. Inflation, Unemployment, and Their Microfoundation

PART II. DYNAMICS

7. The Temporality of Dynamic Systems
26. Temporality and Possibility
27. Endurance Versus Composition
28. Past, Present, Future
8. The Complexity of Deterministic Dynamics
29. Deterministic Dynamical Systems
30. Stability, Instability, Bifurcation
31. Chaos and Predictability
32. Uniting Deterministic and Stochastic Concepts
33. The Foundation of Statistical Mechanics
34. Causality but not Determinism
9. Stochastic Processes
35. The Calculus of Probability and Stochastic
36. Stochastic and Deterministic Models of Business Cycles
37. The Survival of the Fittest or the Luckiest?
38. Causality and Randomness in Statistical Mechanics
39. Probability but not Tychism
10. Directionality, History, Expectation
40. Causality and Temporally Asymmetry
41. Natural History and Its Abuse
42. Dynamic Optimization, Expectation, Uncertainty
11. Epilogue
43. A Look Backward and Forward
Notes
Bibliography
 
   
   
 
  Foundations of Complex-
System Theories:
In Economics,
Evolutionary Biology,
and Statistical Physics

Sunny Y Auyang
Cambridge University Press

1998
ISBN 0-521-77826-3
$ 29.95 paperback
418 pages