Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Systems Theory, Chaos Theory, and More

There was a part of last class was a little more challenging for me to understand.  I do not have the book yet, but I am sure that when I read the chapters I will full understand.  But for now, I understood what Professor Strate meant by the definition of a system.  A system is a whole, composed of interdependent parts and how the whole is the sum on its parts.  I also understood emergence and what close and open systems were.  What I had trouble understanding was Benoit Mandelbrot's presentation on TED talks about fractals and the art of roughness.  It could have been because his accent was a little troubling to understand, but I was not able to fully keep track of what he was saying.  Other than that, many of the things we learned were insightful.  I never thought that science words such as virus were used for internet terms as well, "going viral."  I also enjoyed learning about the butterfly effect.  The analogy used was, "a butterfly flaps its wings in China and can cause a hurricane in the Caribbean."  This means that some information can intensify, causing a feedback loop and can have an enormous impact on people.  This butterfly effect has to do with the theory of complexity, which is closely related to the chaos theory.  I enjoyed the sink example when describing that out of chaos, comes order or vice versa.  At first when you turn on a sink, the water comes out in spurts and does not flow the way is should.  Only after a few seconds does the water finally become organized and comes out flowing the way it should.  It was also interesting that the definition of information first defined by Clause Shannon took a shift in emphasis, causing information to be in the middle of order and entropy.  The self replicating genes called memes was something I found valuable to know as well.  Memes describe the spreading of ideas.  Although Mendelbrot's presentation was found online and not in the textbook (that I know of), I look forward to researching more about his research.

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