Universality: Stronger than logic

I was re-reading some old universality papers. You know, universality in the stat-mech sense—the critical exponents that characterize phase transitions are insensitive to details of your model or crystal structure of your material. This insight matured in the 1950s and 60s and culminated with Kenneth Wilson’s development of the renormalization group in the first few […]

Minds, Machines and Herbert Simon

Our designed reality Two years late to the party, I discovered the brilliant review paper “Machine Behavior” by Iyad Rahwan and an all-star cast. Its premise is that we need to let systems relying on artificial intelligence be scientific study objects in their own right, even though they are, to some extent, engineered. The article […]

The watershed of feedbacks

This is a follow-up to my previous post about the differences between the traditions of integrative, systemsy science. I will use the same –5 to +5 scale as in that post. Negative numbers are not bad but represent people, papers, places, and concepts more to the complex systems / Santa Fe Institute side. Positive numbers […]

{complex [systems} theory]

(This is a light-hearted and ill-researched post. When the infinite amount of free time I ordered on Amazon finally arrives, I might dig into it deeply and be serious.) Everyone who tries to read widely about systemsy stuff will inevitably feel puzzled by the large-scale flow of ideas. In particular, there is a—sometimes crystal clear, […]

Some temporal network visualizations

I recently needed some colorful animations of temporal network data. You can see the result here. These film clips show the proximity of children in a French primary school (ages 6–12). Watch out for the clear transitions between lectures and recess or lunch break (e.g. around 3:28 min into the video below). A legend is […]

Do you believe in ghosts?

I do. In the sense of phantom traffic jams—traffic jams without a bottleneck, that just emerge spontaneously (and with peculiar density characteristics—more below). The most fundamental feature of highway traffic is the “inverse-λ shape” flow-density diagram. Flow is the number of vehicles that pass a point along the road. Density is how many cars there […]