The quiet revolution: When complex left networks

Soon after networks became all the rage among statistical physicists, the field turned away from the home turf of complex systems science. This blog post argues for considering network science as distinct from complexity science. All is sketchy and subjective (from the viewpoint of a statistical physicist jumping on the complex-networks bandwagon). I can think […]

Complexity science in the name of politics: a travel diary

This is a reading diary of a naïve complexity / computational social scientist’s first encounter with F. A. Hayek + Eastern Bloc tektology & cybernetics. You might have heard about project Cybersyn? In 1970s Chile, Salvador Allende’s socialist regime was betting on a systems-theoretical approach to the complex decision-making that’s an inevitable consequence of a […]

The absolutely most fundamental

I recently revisited some social network classics, and this post collects random thoughts about them. In sum, I want to cheer on research on the foundations of social network theory. Not because the house would crumble without stronger foundations but because that’s where the coolest future discoveries will be. These reflections are rough, quick, and […]

Intro video to the history and ideas of complexity science and networks

I needed a video presenting the historical development of ideas behind the complexity and network science in 20 minutes—an impossible task of course (especially since I couldn’t spend too much time on prepping it). Anyway, someone out there could be interested, so here it is: Some credits not stated in the video: The starling murmuration […]

50 years of limits to growth

In my closest scientific surrounding, The Limits to Growth is surprisingly unknown, so at its 50th anniversary, this blog post is an intro + my reflections. For short, it’s a fascinating story of what happens when computational social science makes a splash. If we interpret computational social science literally—not just meaning social media data mining—its […]

Using networks to design an Indian village

Notes on the Synthesis of Form by maverick architect/mathematician Christopher Alexander belongs to the canon of design theory. In 150 pages of youthful enthusiasm, Alexander brings together D’Arcy Thompson, cosmology, modernist architecture, anthropology, and his own algorithm to hierarchically decompose a graph. In 1962, two years before the publication of Notes on the Synthesis of Form, […]

Faraway, so close! Nobel prize to complex systems

Yesterday, it was announced that Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann, and Giorgio Parisi get to share the 2021 Nobel prize in physics. Woo hoo! I had a smile on my lips running through the night streets of Tokyo (my usual exercise). The best part is the motivation: “For groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical […]

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 […]