behavior of a system or model with many parts interacting in multiple ways
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Complexity is a term generally used to indicate a quality where many aspects or parts of specific entities or systems interact or form patterns with each other in varying ways. Observing and assessing these patterns of relationships are the focus of diverse scientific and mathematical studies of complex systems.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - FEdit
- I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which when you looked at it in the right way, did not become more complicated.
- Poul Anderson, "Call Me Joe" (April, 1957) Astounding Science Fiction as spoken by the character, Jan Cornelius.
- The recognition of the importance of complex systems in physics and biology has led to their study in economic systems, usually characterized as governed by a large set of interacting nonlinear dynamic systems. It is clear that these phenomena are observable and are not necessarily inconsistent with standard economic reasoning. Professor Rosser has collected a large number of papers, some from not-easily-accessible sources, which show the application of complex system theory to a variety of economic phenomena. This collection will be invaluable to the development of new and necessary thinking in economics.
- Kenneth Arrow, blurb on the Complexity In Economics (2004) edited by J. Barkley Rosser
- Complexity theory is really a movement of the sciences. Standard sciences tend to see the world as mechanistic. That sort of science puts things under a finer and finer microscope. In biology the investigations go from classifying organisms to functions of organisms, then organs themselves, then cells, and then organelles, right down to protein and enzymes, metabolic pathways, and DNA. This is finer and finer reductionist thinking.
The movement that started complexity looks in the other direction. It’s asking, how do things assemble themselves? How do patterns emerge from these interacting elements? Complexity is looking at interacting elements and asking how they form patterns and how the patterns unfold. It’s important to point out that the patterns may never be finished. They’re open-ended. In standard science this hit some things that most scientists have a negative reaction to. Science doesn’t like perpetual novelty.
- W. Brian Arthur In: Coming from Your Inner Self, Conversation with W. Brian Arthur, Xerox PARC, April 16, 1999, by Joseph Jaworski, Gary Jusela, C. Otto Scharmer. [Dialog on Leadership]. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved on 27 October 2007.
- There is a simplicity that exists on the far side of complexity, and there is a communication n of sentiment and attitude not to be discovered by careful exegesis of a text.
- Patrick Buchanan, in Right from the Beginning, p. 91
- Let us keep the discoveries and indisputable measurements of physics. But … A more complete study of the movements of the world will oblige us, little by little, to turn it upside down; in other words, to discover that if things hold and hold together, it is only by reason of complexity, from above.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in The Phenomenon of Man, p. 43
- [W]hen Galileo discovered he could use the tools of mathematics and mechanics to understand the motion of celestial bodies, he felt, in the words of one imminent researcher, that he had learned the language in which God recreated the universe. Today we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift.
- I actually enjoy complexity that's empowering. If it challenges me, the complexity is very pleasant. But sometimes I must deal with complexity that's disempowering. The effort I invest to understand that complexity is tedious work. It doesn't add anything to my abilities.
- The complexity that we despise is the complexity that leads to difficulty. It isn't the complexity that raises problems. There is a lot of complexity in the world. The world is complex. That complexity is beautiful. I love trying to understand how things work. But that's because there's something to be learned from mastering that complexity.
- Ward Cunningham, in "The Simplest Thing that Could Possibly Work : A Conversation with Ward Cunningham" Part V (19 January 2004)
- The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity.
- Richard Dawkins, in Programming of Life, p. 125
- But considering that I walked in expecting no complexity at all, let alone the visual wonderments, 'Snow White and the Huntsman' is a considerable experience.
G - LEdit
- Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…
- William Gibson, in Neuromancer (1984)
- The most common human act that writing a novel resembles is lying. The working novelist lies daily, very complexly, and at great length. If not for our excessive vanity and our over-active imaginations, novelists might be unusually difficult to deceive.
- We are glorious accidents of an unpredictable process with no drive to complexity, not the expected results of evolutionary principles that yearn to produce a creature capable of understanding the mode of its own necessary construction.
- Stephen Jay Gould, in Evolution and the Common Law, p. 41
- I think the next [21st] century will be the century of complexity. We have already discovered the basic laws that govern matter and understand all the normal situations. We don’t know how the laws fit together, and what happens under extreme conditions. But I expect we will find a complete unified theory sometime this century. There is no limit to the complexity that we can build using those basic laws.
- Stephen W. Hawking, in answer to a question: Some say that while the twentieth century was the century of physics, we are now entering the century of biology. What do you think of this? Quoted in Governing Quotes (3 quotes)
- I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
- The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.
- Douglas Horton, in Quotes about Simplicity, p. 7
- It’s incredible how many years I wasted associating complexity and ambiguity with intelligence. Turns out the right answer is usually pretty simple, and complexity and ambiguity are how terrible people live with themselves.
- David Klion, in Telly Davidson, "What The West Wing Cult Revival Says About 2018 Politics". The American Conservative magazine, August 23, 2018.
- As with real reading, the ability to comprehend subtlety and complexity comes only with time and a lot of experience. If you don't adequately acquire those skills, moving out into the real world of real people can actually become quite scary.
- I think complexity is mostly sort of crummy stuff that is there because it's too expensive to change the interface.
M - REdit
- It doesn't matter how much you want. What really matters is how much you want it. The extent and complexity of the problem does not matter was much as does the willingness to solve it.
- No matter what field a leader is in, he will face problems. They are inevitable for three reasons; first, we live in a world of growing complexity and diversity; second, we interact with people; and third, we cannot control all the situation we face.
- John C. Maxwell, in The 21 Indispensable Qualities, p. 98
- The complexity of things - the things within things - just seems to be endless. I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple.
- Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.
- Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.
- I don't think there was a thunderclap or a divine spark that suddenly made one species smart. You can see, in our ancestors, there was a gradual expansion of the brain; there was an expansion of the complexity of tools.
- Religion leaves no room for human complexity.
- Daniel Radcliffe, in Atheism For Dummies, p. 358
- The most extensive computation known has been conducted over the last billion years on a planet-wide scale: it is the evolution of life. The power of this computation is illustrated by the complexity and beauty of its crowning achievement, the human brain.
S - ZEdit
- Complexity has the propensity to overload systems, making the relevance of a particular piece of information not statistically significant. And when an array of mind-numbing factors is added into the equation, theory and models rarely conform to reality.
- L.K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action by L.K. Samuels, Cobden Press, (2013) p. 28.
- The inherent nature of complexity is to doubt certainty and any pretense to finite and flawless data. Put another way, under uncertainty principles, any attempt by political systems to ‘impose order’ has an equal chance to instead ‘impose disorder.’
- L.K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Cobden Press (2013) p. 227.
- You can't prove Rembrandt is better than Norman Rockwell - although if you actually do prefer Rockwell, I'd say you were shunning complexity, were secretly conservative, and hadn't really looked at either painter's work. Taste is a blood sport.
- Jerry Saltz, in "Has Money Ruined Art?," nymag.com, 2007
- The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.
- Thomas Sowell, in Knowledge and Decisions, p. 10
- Kirk: The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.
- Theodore Sturgeon, "Shore Leave", Star Trek: The Original Series, broadcast December 29, 1966.
- The northern ocean is beautiful, … and beautiful the delicate intricacy of the snowflake before it melts and perishes, but such beauties are as nothing to him who delights in numbers, spurning alike the wild irrationality of life and baffling complexity of nature’s laws.
- The intellectual evolution of the race consists in an increase in the number, delicacy, complexity, permanence and speed of formation of such associations.
- Edward Thorndike, in Popular Science Nov 1901, p. 65
- Complexity is the prodigy of the world. Simplicity is the sensation of the universe. Behind complexity, there is always simplicity to be revealed. Inside simplicity, there is always complexity to be discovered
- Gang Yu, in Data Warehousing in the Age of Big Data, p. 40
- Technical skill is mastery of complexity, while creativity is mastery of simplicity.