Complexity Explorer Santa Few Institute

Introduction to Complexity (Spring 2013)

Lead instructor:

This course is no longer in session.



Guest Spot Transcripts:


Lecture Slides:


Unit 1: What is Complexity?

     Optional Reading:



Unit 2: Dynamics and Chaos

     ‚ÄčOptional Reading:


Unit 3: Fractals

     Optional Reading:

  • Fractal Explorer. An on-line book and other resources for learning about fractals.

Unit 4: Information, Order, and Randomness

     Optional Reading:

  • J. L. Lebowitz, Boltzmann's entropy and time's arrow. A semi-popular article for people who want to read further about the issues in Unit 4.
  • S. Carroll, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time. A fascinating (if long) book that will bring you up-to-date on current views in physics about the nature of time.
  • T. D. Schneider, Information Theory Primer. A nice, brief primer on Shannon information; readable if you are comfortable with exponents, logarithms, summation signs, and such. Geared towards biologists, so uses genetics as an example.
  • M. Mitchell, Complexity: A Guided Tour. See Chapters 3-4 for discussions of information theory and computation theory.



Unit 5: Genetic Algorithms

     Optional Reading:

  • M. Mitchell, Complexity: A Guided Tour. Chapter 9.
  • Link to Karl Sims' papers on evolving computer graphics and virtual creatures.

Unit 6: Cellular Automata

     Optional Reading:


Unit 7: Complexity Economics: Two Interviews

Optional Reading:


Unit 8:  Models of Self-Organization

References and Optional Reading:



Unit 9:  Biological Scaling

References and Optional Reading:

M. E. J. Newman, Power laws, Pareto distributions, and Zipf's law.


G. B. West and J. H. Brown, The origin of allometric scaling laws in biology from genomes to ecosystems: Towards a quantitative unifying theory of biological structure and organization.


G. B. West et al., The fourth dimension of life:  Fractal geometry and allometric scaling of organisms.


P. S. Agutter and D. N. Wheatley, Metabolic scaling:  Consensus or Controversy?


T. Kolokotrones, V. Savage, E. J. Deeds, and W. Fontana, Curvature in metabolic scaling.




Unit 10:  Urban Scaling: An Interview with Luis Bettencourt


Unit 11:  Networks

References and Optional Reading:


D. J. Watts and S. H. Strogatz,  Collective dynamics of 'small-world' networks.


A. L. Barabasi and R. Albert, Emergence of scaling in random networks.


M. E. J. Newman, Networks: An Introduction.


M. E. J. Newman, Structure and function of complex networks.


D. Easley and J. Kleinberg, Networks, Crowds, and Markets.


D. J. Watts, Six degrees:  The science of a connected age.


A. L Barabasi, Linked:  The new science of networks.


Unit 13:  Final Exam