Complexity Explorer Santa Fe Institute

Course Syllabus

Natural Computation and Self-Organization—The Physics of Information Processing in Complex Systems

The course explores how nature's structure reflects how nature computes. It introduces intrinsic unpredictability (deterministic chaos) and the emergence of structure (self-organization) in natural complex systems. Using statistical mechanics, information theory, and computation theory, the course develops a systematic framework for analyzing processes in terms of their causal architecture. This is determined by answering three questions: (i) How much historical information does a process store? (ii) How is that information stored? And (iii) how is the stored information used to produce future behavior? The answers to these questions tell one how a system intrinsically computes.

University of California, Davis
Jim Crutchfield
Nonlinear Dynamics, Emergence, Information Theory, Computation