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Complex adaptive systems: Exploring the known, the unknown and the unknowable

Author: Simon A. Levin
Journal: Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 40 (2003), 3-19
MSC (2000): Primary 92B05, 92D15, 92D40
Published electronically: October 9, 2002
MathSciNet review: 1943129
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Abstract: The study of complex adaptive systems, from cells to societies, is a study of the interplay among processes operating at diverse scales of space, time and organizational complexity. The key to such a study is an understanding of the interrelationships between microscopic processes and macroscopic patterns, and the evolutionary forces that shape systems. In particular, for ecosystems and socioeconomic systems, much interest is focused on broad scale features such as diversity and resiliency, while evolution operates most powerfully at the level of individual agents. Understanding the evolution and development of complex adaptive systems thus involves understanding how cooperation, coalitions and networks of interaction emerge from individual behaviors and feed back to influence those behaviors. In this paper, some of the mathematical challenges are discussed.

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Additional Information

Simon A. Levin
Affiliation: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-1003

Keywords: Complex adaptive systems, self-organization, natural selection, ecosystems
Received by editor(s): December 12, 2000
Received by editor(s) in revised form: February 21, 2002
Published electronically: October 9, 2002
Additional Notes: It is a pleasure to acknowledge the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, grant award 97-3-5, and of the National Science Foundation, grant award DEB-0083566. Jonathan Dushoff and Helene Muller-Landau provided useful comments.
Article copyright: © Copyright 2002 American Mathematical Society