Published in 1996, I am approximately one-third through this and I must say that I never would find sand piles so interesting. Some of these thoughts from the book I have included for our readers to get a feel for what the author is attempting to articulate:
“I will argue that complex behavior in nature reflects the tendency of large systems with many components to evolve into a poised, “critical” state, way out of balance, where minor disturbances may lead to events, called avalanches, of all sizes.”
“All phenomena in nature, from the largest length scales spanned by the universe to the smallest represented by the quark, should be explained by the same law of physics.”
“Many different quantitative general definitions of complexity have been attempted, without much success, so let us think of complexity simply as variabilty. Crystals and gases and orbiting planets are not complex, but landscapes are.”
“The problem with understanding our world is that we have nothing to compare it with.”
“Because of their composite nature, complex systems can exhibit catastrophic behavior , where one part of the system can affect many others by a domino effect.”
This is a quote from the book that, thus far, I am not sure I agree with especially after the financial meltdown of the late 2000’s and reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
“Small freak events can never have dramatic consequences. Large fluctuations in equilibrium systems can occur only if many random events accidentally pull in the same direction, which is prohibitively unlikely.”
“Large avalanches, not gradual change, make the link between quantitative and qualitative behavior, and form the basis for emergent behavior.”
“Self-organized criticality is nature’s way of making enormous transformations over short time scales.”
These were some of the main points that I thought the readers might need to know so when we go more in depth on these, we will understand the points the author is trying to get across. I have also included a video on self-organized criticality for your viewing. I do not have a great understanding of this at this point, but I am extremely interested in this because of my interest in complex adaptive systems such as investing in the stock market.