Posted by: zyxo | July 6, 2009

Simplexity : new word about old situations

Red 2 × 4 LEGO brick from the LDraw parts libr...
Image via Wikipedia

What is simplexity ?
Before some weeks I never heard or saw the word. It seams like cute, original, and most of all : scientific and difficult.

What is it all about ?
According to wikipedia is is an ” emerging theory that proposes a possible complementary relationship between complexity and simplicity.”
Professor Petter Wipperman (also in wikipedia) proposed a social definition :
Simplexity therefore stands for a balance between the growing complexity of daily life and our own personal satisfaction.”

But searching a little further I found this : ” Simplexity: in systems theory a term for the emergence of simple features as a direct (though possibly highly intricate) consequence of a system of rules. Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart. “The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World.” New York: Penguin, 1994. p. 399.” on
So the word is not all that new.

If you read some posts on my blog, of other writings about emerging patterns, hierarchies and the like you will probably find that these definitions ring a bell : there is nothing new, only the name.
It is all about making 1) complex things simple (The romans already new : “divide et impera / divide and conquer), which is what all our analysis methods are about : cut the complex monster in simple pieces and then the whole becomes simple an 2) how you can make complex constructions with simple items or rules : think of Lego, fractals, swarm intelligence, a book written with 26 different letters, or our DNA blueprint written with 4 different nucleotides

One of the most recent examples is twitter : how such a simple (messages with 140 characters) system give birth to such a huge and complex hype, with hundreds of twitter tools and applications ?

The book

Perhaps the hype (?) about simplexity comes from a book, written by Jeffry Kluger : “Simplexity. Why simple things become complex (and how complex things can be made simple)”. J.Kluger also wrote an article about it in Time.
I must confess: until now I did not read the book, but I you believe others then here you can find more :

Did you liked this post ? Then you might be interested in the following :
A bunch of tools for twitter
Do stock traders show swarm intelligence ?
The end of emergence
Evolution towards intelligent design

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  1. I added Simplexity to Wikipedia. It was deleted a few times as a “Neologism” but later I was able to find enough material (some of it dating back to 30’s) to support the entry.

    More recently I started writing a free web-book on Simplexity:

    Here’s a link to a collection of WordPress blog postings on Simplexity:

    A couple of my blog postings on the term (2006)

  2. Daniel,
    Thanks for the additional information !

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