3Complexity and Chaos

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain they do not refer to reality.

– Albert Einstein

Research in chaos is the most interesting current area that there is. I am convinced that chaos research will bring about a revolution in the natural sciences similar to that produced by quantum mechanics.

– Gerd Binnig, Nobel Prize winner in Physics (1986)

3.1. Introduction

Chaos science came to light in the mid-1970s and has had an impact on a host of scientific disciplines from theoretical physics to insurance, economics, meteorology and medicine. It throws doubt on our ability to predict future events accurately. In spite of advanced and costly marketing research, a large proportion of new product introductions turn out to be failures. It sounds as if we are doing no better than chance, or even worse. In fact, chaos science affects our daily life. It can help us to understand such phenomena as the spread of diseases, the stock market volatility, the lack of reliability of weather forecasts and product sales.

Chaos science is the popular name for the study of nonlinear dynamic systems. It has made scientists more aware of the fact that most quantitative models they design and use are linearized approximations of what they observe as reality. Among the new understandings are:

  • – apparently simple systems can be quite complicated in their operations;
  • – apparently complicated systems can be quite simple in ...

Get From Complexity in the Natural Sciences to Complexity in Operations Management Systems now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.