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Special Issue: Information Theory for Human and Social Processes

Complexity Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 08:45

Shannon famously applied his “mathematical theory of communication” to human communication, alledgedly having his wife, Betty, estimating word probabilities to calcualte the first approximation of the entropy of English. The following decades have seen creative further applications to humans and social processes (e.g., Miller, 1956; Attneave, 1959; Coleman, 1975; Ellis and Fisher, 1975; Cappella, 1979). These efforts lost steam in the 1980s, mainly because of the lack of adequate data, and limited computational power. Both limitations do not apply anymore. The increase in human interactions taking place in digital environments has led to an abundance of behavioral “big data”, enough even to calculate measures that converge rather slowly.


This Special Issue compiles creative research on the innovative uses of information theory, and its extensions, to better understand human behavior and social processes. Among other topics, the focus is set on human communication, social organization, social algorithms, human–machine interaction, artificial and human intelligence, collaborative teamwork, social media dynamics, information societies, digital development, and cognitive and machine biases—all online and/or offline. 

Source: www.mdpi.com

Complexity Explained

Complexity Digest - Sat, 06/29/2019 - 09:39

Complexity science, also called complex systems science, studies how a large collection of components – locally interacting with each other at small scales – can spontaneously self-organize to exhibit non-trivial global structures and behaviors at larger scales, often without external intervention, central authorities or leaders. The properties of the collection may not be understood or predicted from the full knowledge of its constituents alone. Such a collection is called a complex system and it requires new mathematical frameworks and scientific methodologies for its investigation.

Here are a few things you should know about complex systems,
result of a worldwide collaborative effort from leading experts, practitioners and students in the field.

Source: complexityexplained.github.io

How to Understand the Universe When You’re Stuck Inside of It

Complexity Digest - Fri, 06/28/2019 - 10:16

Lee Smolin has a radical idea for how to understand an object with no exterior: Imagine it built bit-by-bit from relationships between events.

Source: www.quantamagazine.org

Rank-frequency distribution of natural languages: A difference of probabilities approach

Complexity Digest - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 10:45

• The dynamics of frequency-rank relations in six languages is analyzed.

• Acceptable agreement is found for the quenched rank frequency data of these languages.

• This approach might find applications in other ranked systems, such as sports.


Rank-frequency distribution of natural languages: A difference of probabilities approach

Germinal Cocho, Rosalío F. Rodríguez, Sergio Sánchez, Jorge Flores, Carlos Pineda, Carlos Gershenson

Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Volume 532, 15 October 2019, 121795

Source: www.sciencedirect.com

Two Spanish chapters on cognitive ecology of education

Dr. Tom Froese - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 16:43

A volume edited by Ronnie Videla on steps toward a cognitive ecology of education was just published. I contributed a Preface to the book, and members of the 4E Cognition research group provided a Spanish translation of their recent technical report on studies with the Enactive Torch that appeared in TIES.

Prefacio: Sobre la necesidad de una ecología cognitiva de la educación

Tom Froese

El Enactive Torch: Aprendizaje interactivo y corporeizado a través de una interfaz de sustitución sensorial

Ximena González-Grandón, Héctor Gómez-Escobar, Leonardo Zapata-Fonseca, Guillermo Ortíz-Garín, Javier Flores, Ariel Sáenz-Burrola, and Tom Froese

Information-theoretic measures of ecosystem change, sustainability, and resilience

Complexity Digest - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:49

We introduce five measures describing the system-wide behaviour of complex ecological systems. Within an information-theoretic framework, these measures account for changes in both species diversity and total biomass to describe (i) overall system change, (ii) sustainability to external pressure, (iii) shift from a baseline state and two types of resilience: (iv) ability to recover from local pressures and (v) overall potential to return to a baseline state. We apply these measures to study the behaviour of three computer models: a large 59-functional groups complex ecological model (Ecopath with Ecosim) of north Western Australia undergoing internal dynamics, a smaller 6-group coral reef model subjected to various combinations of single and multiple stressors and a prey–predator model displaying limit cycles. We demonstrate the state-dependency of properties like resilience and sustainability by showing how these measures change in time as a function of internal dynamics and external forcing. Furthermore, we show how our proposed measures can simplify system analysis and monitoring by providing indicators of changes in system behaviour, sustainability, and resilience.


Information-theoretic measures of ecosystem change, sustainability, and resilience
Fabio Boschetti Karine Prunera Mathew A Vanderklift Damian P Thomson Russell C Babcock Christopher Doropoulos Anna Cresswell Hector Lozano-Montes
ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsz105

Source: academic.oup.com

Ecosystem antifragility: Beyond integrity and resilience 

Complexity Digest - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 16:01

We review the concept of ecosystem resilience in its relation to ecosystem integrity from an information theory approach. We summarize the literature on the subject identifying three main narratives: ecosystem properties that enable them to be more resilient; ecosystem response to perturbations; and complexity. We also include original ideas with theoretical and quantitative developments with application examples. The main contribution is a new way to rethink resilience, that is mathematically formal and easy to evaluate heuristically in real-world applications: ecosystem antifragility. An ecosystem is antifragile if it benefits from environmental variability. Antifragility therefore goes beyond robustness or resilience because while resilient/robust systems are merely perturbation-resistant, antifragile structures not only withstand stress but also benefit from it.


Equihua Zamora M, Espinosa M, Gershenson C, López-Corona O, Munguia M, Pérez-Maqueo O, Ramírez-Carrillo E. 2019. Ecosystem antifragility: Beyond integrity and resilience. PeerJ Preprints 7:e27813v1

Source: peerj.com

Neurath’s boat and the Sally-Anne test: Life, Cognition, Matter and Stuff

Complexity Digest - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 14:13

Making sense of the world around us is likened to the task of staying afloat on a stormy sea while rebuilding our craft of ideas and concepts as we go. This metaphor is pursued through successive stages of cognitive development, and more sophisticated appreciation of multiple perspectives; from pre-theoretical to folk science to the theoretical, from individual to social to inter-subjective agreement. This inescapably generates reflections on the relationships between embodied and situated Life and Cognition.


Neurath’s boat and the Sally-Anne test: Life, Cognition, Matter and Stuff
Inman Harvey
Adaptive Behavior

Source: journals.sagepub.com

What happened to cognitive science?

Complexity Digest - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 04:41

More than a half-century ago, the ‘cognitive revolution’, with the influential tenet ‘cognition is computation’, launched the investigation of the mind through a multidisciplinary endeavour called cognitive science. Despite significant diversity of views regarding its definition and intended scope, this new science, explicitly named in the singular, was meant to have a cohesive subject matter, complementary methods and integrated theories. Multiple signs, however, suggest that over time the prospect of an integrated cohesive science has not materialized. Here we investigate the status of the field in a data-informed manner, focusing on four indicators, two bibliometric and two socio-institutional. These indicators consistently show that the devised multi-disciplinary program failed to transition to a mature inter-disciplinary coherent field. Bibliometrically, the field has been largely subsumed by (cognitive) psychology, and educationally, it exhibits a striking lack of curricular consensus, raising questions about the future of the cognitive science enterprise.


What happened to cognitive science?
Rafael Núñez, Michael Allen, Richard Gao, Carson Miller Rigoli, Josephine Relaford-Doyle & Arturs Semenuks
Nature Human Behaviour (2019)

Source: www.nature.com

The physics of governance networks: critical transitions in contagion dynamics on multilayer adaptive networks with application to the sustainable use of renewable resources

Complexity Digest - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 03:34

Adaptive networks are a versatile approach to model phenomena such as contagion and spreading dynamics, critical transitions and structure formation that emerge from the dynamic coevolution of complex network structure and node states. Here, we study critical transitions in contagion dynamics on multilayer adaptive networks with dynamic node states and present an application to the governance of sustainable resource use. We focus on a three layer adaptive network model, where a polycentric governance network interacts with a social network of resource users which in turn interacts with an ecological network of renewable resources. We uncover that sustainability is favored for slow interaction timescales, large homophilic network adaptation rate (as long it is below the fragmentation threshold) and high taxation rates. Interestingly, we also observe a trade-off between an eco-dictatorship (reduced model with a single governance actor that always taxes unsustainable resource use) and the polycentric governance network of multiple actors. In the latter setup, sustainability is enhanced for low but hindered for high tax rates compared to the eco-dictatorship case. These results highlight mechanisms generating emergent critical transitions in contagion dynamics on multilayer adaptive network and show how these can be understood and approximated analytically, relevant for understanding complex adaptive systems from various disciplines ranging from physics and epidemiology to sociology and global sustainability science. The paper also provides insights into potential critical intervention points for policy in the form of taxes in the governance of sustainable renewable resource use that can inform more process-detailed social-ecological modeling.


The physics of governance networks: critical transitions in contagion dynamics on multilayer adaptive networks with application to the sustainable use of renewable resources
Fabian Geier, Wolfram Barfuss, Marc Wiedermann, Jürgen Kurths, Jonathan F. Donges

Source: arxiv.org

Turing patterns mediated by network topology in homogeneous active systems

Complexity Digest - Sun, 06/23/2019 - 23:36

Mechanisms of pattern formation—of which the Turing instability is an archetype—constitute an important class of dynamical processes occurring in biological, ecological, and chemical systems. Recently, it has been shown that the Turing instability can induce pattern formation in discrete media such as complex networks, opening up the intriguing possibility of exploring it as a generative mechanism in a plethora of socioeconomic contexts. Yet much remains to be understood in terms of the precise connection between network topology and its role in inducing the patterns. Here we present a general mathematical description of a two-species reaction-diffusion process occurring on different flavors of network topology. The dynamical equations are of the predator-prey class that, while traditionally used to model species population, has also been used to model competition between antagonistic features in social contexts. We demonstrate that the Turing instability can be induced in any network topology by tuning the diffusion of the competing species or by altering network connectivity. The extent to which the emergent patterns reflect topological properties is determined by a complex interplay between the diffusion coefficients and the localization properties of the eigenvectors of the graph Laplacian. We find that networks with large degree fluctuations tend to have stable patterns over the space of initial perturbations, whereas patterns in more homogenous networks are purely stochastic.


Turing patterns mediated by network topology in homogeneous active systems
Sayat Mimar, Mariamo Mussa Juane, Juyong Park, Alberto P. Muñuzuri, and Gourab Ghoshal
Phys. Rev. E 99, 062303

Source: journals.aps.org

Average Fitness Differences on NK Landscapes

Complexity Digest - Sun, 06/23/2019 - 22:31

The average fitness difference between adjacent sites in a fitness landscape is an important descriptor that impacts in particular the dynamics of selection/mutation processes on the landscape. Of particular interest is its connection to the error threshold phenomenon. We show here that this parameter is intimately tied to the ruggedness through the landscape’s amplitude spectrum. For the NK model, a surprisingly simple analytical estimate explains simulation data with high precision.


Average Fitness Differences on NK Landscapes
Wim Hordijk, Stuart A. Kauffman, Peter F. Stadler

Theory in Biosciences

Source: link.springer.com

Moving to OIST to set up Embodied Cognitive Science Unit

Dr. Tom Froese - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 16:04

I am super happy to publicly announce that we are moving to the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) this August in order to set up the Embodied Cognitive Science Unit!!

I am grateful to UNAM for having provided the seeds of my research group, and I am looking forward to take our work to the next level at OIST!

Here is a short introduction to OIST:

If there are any potential PhD students interested in joining our group, note that the general application deadline is Nov. 15: https://admissions.oist.jp/apply-phd

Localist plasticity identified by mutual information

Complexity Digest - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 10:10

The issue of memory is difficult for standard neural network models. Ubiquitous synaptic plasticity introduces the problem of interference, which limits pattern recall and introduces conflation errors. We present a lognormal recurrent neural network, load patterns into it (MNIST), and test the resulting neural representation for information content by an output classifier. We identify neurons, which ‘compress’ the pattern information into their own adjacency network, and by stimulating these achieve recall. Learning is limited to intrinsic plasticity and output synapses of these pattern neurons (localist plasticity), which prevents interference.

Our first experiments show that this form of storage and recall is possible, with the caveat of a ‘lossy’ recall similar to human memory. Comparing our results with a standard Gaussian network model, we notice that this effect breaks down for the Gaussian model.


Localist plasticity identified by mutual information

Gabriele Scheler, Johann Schumann

Source: www.biorxiv.org

Exploration of the chemical space and its three historical regimes

Complexity Digest - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 11:35

We found that the number of new chemical compounds has grown exponentially with a 4.4% annual production rate from 1800 to 2015 not even affected by World Wars. There are three distinct growth regimes: proto-organic, organic, and organometallic, with decreasing variability in the production of compounds over time. Contrary to the belief that organic synthesis developed only after 1828, synthesis had been a key provider of new compounds already at the beginning of the 19th century. By 1900, it became the established tool to report new compounds. We found that chemists are conservative when selecting starting materials and that despite the growing production of new compounds, most of them belong to a restricted set of chemical compositions.


Exploration of the chemical space and its three historical regimes

Eugenio J. Llanos, Wilmer Leal, Duc H. Luu, Jürgen Jost, Peter F. Stadler, and Guillermo Restrepo

Source: www.pnas.org

Quantifying the sensing power of vehicle fleets

Complexity Digest - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 17:34

Attaching sensors to crowd-sourced vehicles could provide a cheap and accurate way to monitor air pollution, road quality, and other aspects of a city’s health. But in order for so-called drive-by sensing to be practically useful, the sensor-equipped vehicle fleet needs to have large “sensing power”—that is, it needs to cover a large fraction of a city’s area during a given reference period. Here, we provide an analytic description of the sensing power of taxi fleets, which agrees with empirical data from nine major cities. Our results show taxis’ sensing power is unexpectedly large—in Manhattan; just 10 random taxis cover one-third of street segments daily, which certifies that drive-by sensing can be readily implemented in the real world.


Quantifying the sensing power of vehicle fleets
Kevin P. O’Keeffe, Amin Anjomshoaa, Steven H. Strogatz, Paolo Santi, and Carlo Ratti

Source: www.pnas.org

Postgraduate School of Thinking, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Complexity Digest - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 10:36

At the most fundamental level many of the problems we face are the unfortunate outcome of the malpractice of thinking. Whichever complex problem one may consider –be it ecological, societal, political, economic, organisational etc.– one will likely find that it is caused by the clashing of incompatible or inadequate manners of thinking. Even when these are genuinely well intended and strongly self-justified, they often inadvertently contribute to composite problematics.
The inadequacies of our thinking are deeply entrenched in the way that we humans, perceive the world, ourselves in the world, and how we interact with it. Our professional, educational, cultural and metaphysical systems strongly dispose us towards outlining sharp boundaries, separating objects from backgrounds, ’us’ from ‘them’, defining identities and curving out what is to be of significance from what can be dismissed, disposed of, or exploited. Such dispositions result in oversimplifications which are often apparent to us in the thinking of others, but much less in our own thinking. Yet, they are omnipresent and almost impossible to avoid. Once cohered by logical reasoning, anchored in captivating symbolism and encoded in algorithms, such simplifications turn into cages: mental, emotional, operational… Moving beyond them becomes literally unthinkable. We may repeat the mantra of ‘thinking outside the box’, we may praise critical, independent, creative and disruptive thinking, but these get deployed only in as far as they prove usable for the affirmation of our respective, deeply rooted worldviews.

Source: schoolofthinking.be

News on the limits of AI and alternatives

Dr. Tom Froese - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 12:57

My university published an interview about my views on the limits of AI and what I think are better alternatives for technological development.

Here is a short video clip:

Call for Applications: Cátedra Germinal Cocho en Ciencias de la Complejidad (Senior posdoc)

Complexity Digest - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 12:28

The Center for Complexity Sciences (C3) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México is seeking candidates for a one year researcher position (extensible for a second year).


The candidates should have more than ten publications in indexed journals and to have directed at least one thesis (doctorate, masters, or bachelors). Projects can be individual or related to current research at the C3.

Source: complexes.blogspot.com

Call for Applications: Cátedra Germinal Cocho en Ciencias de la Complejidad (Senior posdoc)

Complexes - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 12:27
The Center for Complexity Sciences (C3) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México is seeking candidates for a one year researcher position (extensible for a second year).

The candidates should have more than ten publications in indexed journals and to have directed at least one thesis (doctorate, masters, or bachelors). Projects can be individual or related to current research at the C3.

Interested candidates should send CV and research statement before June 20th to cgg at unam dot mx.


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