Introduction to Complexity and Complex Systems: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Introduction to Complexity and Complex Systems

1st Edition

By Robert B. Northrop

CRC Press

551 pages | 133 B/W Illus.

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The boundaries between simple and complicated, and complicated and complex system designations are fuzzy and debatable, even using quantitative measures of complexity. However, if you are a biomedical engineer, a biologist, physiologist, economist, politician, stock market speculator, or politician, you have encountered complex systems. Furthermore, your success depends on your ability to successfully interact with and manage a variety of complex systems. In order not to be blindsided by unexpected results, we need a systematic, comprehensive way of analyzing, modeling, and simulating complex systems to predict non-anticipated outcomes.

In its engaging first chapters, the book introduces complex systems, Campbell's Law, and the Law of Unintended Consequences, and mathematics necessary for conversations in complex systems. Subsequent chapters illustrate concepts via commonly studied biological mechanisms. The final chapters focus on higher-level complexity problems, and introduce complexity in economic systems.

Designed as a reference for biologists and biological engineers, Introduction to Complexity and Complex Systems lends itself to use in a classroom course to introduce advanced students studying biomedical engineering, biophysics, or physiology to complex systems. Engaging and illustrative, this book aids scientists and decision makers in managing biological complexity and complex systems.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Complexity and Complex Systems

Introduction to Complexity

Why Study Complex Systems?

Human Responses to Complexity

Complex Systems Engineering

Chapter Summary

Introduction to Large Linear Systems


Linearity, Causality & Stationarity

L TI System Tools Impulse Response, Frequency Response and Real Convolution

Systems Described by Large Sets of Linear ODEs

Stability of Linear Systems

Signal Flow Graphs and Mason's Rule

Chapter Summary

Introduction to Nonlinear Biochemical Systems and Biochemical Oscillators

Introduction Some General Properties of NonIinear Systems

All Living Systems Are Nonlinear

Parametric Regulation in Complex Biological Systems

Chaos, Stability and Limit Cycle Oscillations in Nonlinear Systems

Chapter Summary

Modularity, Redundancy, Degeneracy, Pleiotropy and Robustness in

Complex Biological Systems


Measures of Modularity

Modularity in Physiological Organ Systems

Modularity in Gene Regulation and Development

Network Motifs and Modularity

Redundancy, Degeneracy, Pleiotropy and Robustness

Chapter Summary

The Evolution of Biological Complexity; Invertebrate Immune Systems


Darwinian Evolution; a Brief Summary

Why Does a Rise in Complexity Accompany Biological Evolution?

Examples of Biological Complexity; Invertebrate Immune Systems

Chapter Summary

The Complex Adaptive and Innate Human Immune Systems


An Overview of the CAIS

A Summary of the Cells of the hIS

Innate Immune Systems

Antigen presentation

Autacoids Immunocytokines, Proteins and Glycoproteins Secreted by hIS Cells

Discussion How the hIS is Adaptive

Chapter Summary

Complexity in Quasispecies MicroRNAs

Quasispecies; Viral and Bacterial Evolutionary Models [see Kamp papers in NB3]

The Role of Micro-RNAs in the Regulation of Gene Expression and Disease

Chapter Summary

Introduction to Physiological Complexity Examples of Models of Some Complex Physiological Systems


Physiology Defined


Structure & Function Some Examples of Complex Physiological Regulatory Systems and their Models

Examples of When Complex Physiological Systems Fail

Chapter Summary

The Quest for Quantitative Measures of Complexity


Intuitive Measures of Complexity


Structural Complexity Measures

Informatic Complexity Measures

Chapter Summary

"Irreducible and Specified Complexity" in Living Systems


Irreducible Complexity

Specified Complexity

Chapter Summary

Introduction to Complexity in Economic Systems


Economic Systems

Chapter Summary

Dealing with Complexity


Dorner's Approaches to Tackling Complex Problems

Frederic Vester's "Paper Computer"

The Sensitivity Model of Vester

Learning From Our Mistakes

Chapter Summary


Bibliography and References



About the Author

Robert B. Northrop is Professor Emeritus and the former Program Director of the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Connecticut.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Biotechnology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Cytology
SCIENCE / Physics