Complexity Explorer Santa Fe Institute

Course Syllabus

Fractals, Chaos, and Complexity

This course will introduce students to the ideas of Fractals, Chaos, Complexity and Computation. We will begin with the examples of objects, such as trees, river networks, coastlines, weather, earthquakes, the human body, the stock market, evolution, and others that display examples of fractal geometry. We will then explore many of the fascinating ideas popularized by B. Mandelbrot and others about self-similarity across different geometric scales. Chaos, how it arises in familiar everyday systems, and the link with fractal geometry, will be discussed. We will talk about how processes of "self-organization" arise in systems with feedback, and the ways in which those processes lead to the emergence of coherent space-time structures for systems with no natural length or time scales. We will discuss the idea of Cellular Automata and its relationship to computation. We will examine how chaos and order are inextricably linked with a kind of strange duality. Many of these ideas are having a profound effect in fields far from their point of origin. As a result, we will explore the profound philosophical implications of these ideas, including their effects on modern art and architecture, and especially on the definition of life itself.s, Feldman

University of California, Davis
John Rundle
Fractals, Chaos, Nonlinear Dynamics, Computation