IEEE Circuits and Systems Magazine

Evolution and Dynamics of Complex Networks of Coupled Systems

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The old adage of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is prevalent in sociology, zoology, philosophy and in discussion about human relationships, but it is also important in technology. In a sense, engineering is all about creating things that are greater than the sum of their parts by utilizing many simple components. For instance, in mechanics complex machines are built using simple machines such as pulleys and levers, whereas in electrical engineering simple devices such as resistors, capacitors, inductors and transistors are combined into complex electronic circuits. One important aspect here is the emergence of properties of the whole that were not inherent in the parts. This emergence could be spontaneous, as has been speculated about market economies or social networks, or it could be deliberate, as is usually the case in engineering design. In general, there are many parts, but all parts are similar in functionalities to each other (groups of neurons, or groups of people) or they are members of a small number of classes (e.g. simple machines or two terminal electronic devices).


26 Aug 2010


IEEE Circuits and Systems Magazine