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What does complex systems study?

drop of water, water, liquid

Complex Systems is a new field of science studying how parts of a system give rise to a collective behaviour (not at all or hardly inferred from the properties of the parts) and how the system interacts with its environment. Social systems, living systems, nervous systems, cells, as well as climate or telecommunication infrastructures are examples of complex systems. The complex systems science provides a new way of understanding our physical, biological, ecological, and social universe crossing traditional scientific boundaries.

Although reductionist approach to scientific research has been immensely successful, there are phenomena and properties to which reductionist account remains mute. Those are the emergent macroscopic processes that are a consequence of the integrated nature of system’s components on many levels. The formation of such emergent properties shows universal features regardless of the level of organization of matter under consideration. Universality is a consequence of the insensitivity of the macroscopic behaviour to microscopic details of the system. It is the properties of components’ interactions rather than the properties of components themselves that is important for the qualitative change of behaviour of the system.  This is the main reason why the field of complex systems cuts across all traditional disciplines of science. It focuses on certain questions about parts, wholes and relationships. These questions are relevant to all traditional fields because they offer the big picture of our world.

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