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System Dynamics Glossary

What is the meaning of Complexity?

Complexity describes that which comprises myriad parts, or which is complicated in nature. Complexity can be considered as comprising two forms, detail and dynamic. Detail complexity describes too many factors to be considered at any one time. Dynamic complexity describes behaviour we observe which changes over time, where the patterns of change are familiar but the underlying factors that produce change over time may be obscured. Fundamentally, a system is complex when we cannot understand it through simple cause-and-effect relationships or other standard methods of systems analysis. In a complex system, we cannot reduce the interplay of individual elements to the study of individual elements considered in isolation. Often, several different models, each at a different level of abstraction, are needed.

Books Related to Complexity

Neal Boortz and John Linder, "The FairTax Book".
     —More information on The FairTax Book

Stephen Wolfram, "A New Kind of Science".
     —More information on A New Kind of Science

Other topics in our resources on System Dynamics related to Complexity include: 
  • complexity theory

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    Books related to Complexity