Complex Adaptive Systems

An introduction to the new science of complex adaptive systems
4.3 (3 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a
course's star rating by considering a number of different factors
such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the
likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
25 students enrolled
25% off
Take This Course
  • Lectures 15
  • Length 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
Wishlisted Wishlist

How taking a course works


Find online courses made by experts from around the world.


Take your courses with you and learn anywhere, anytime.


Learn and practice real-world skills and achieve your goals.

About This Course

Published 7/2015 English

Course Description

Complex adaptive systems are all around us from financial markets to ecosystems to the human immune system and even civilization itself, they consist of many agents that are acting and reacting to each other's behavior, out of this often chaotic set of interactions emerges global patterns of organization in a dynamic world of constant change and evolution where nothing is fixed.

In these complex adaptive systems no one is in control, no one has complete information, patterns of order emerge through self-organization between agents. Individual cells self-organize to form differentiated body organs, ants interact and self-organize to form colonies, and people interact to form social networks. These patterns of global organization emerge out of a dynamic between order and chaos that we are only just beginning to understand but as we do we are finding that these apparently very dissimilar systems share fundamental commonalities.

The aim of this course is to give a comprehensive, clear and accessible outline to the new area of complex adaptive systems that is finding application in many areas. We will be covering all the main topics within this domain, as we start by talking about adaptation itself where we will be discussing cybernetics and looking at how systems regulate themselves to respond to change. We'll go on to talk about the dynamics of cooperation and competition, looking at how and why agents work together to create local patterns of organization. Next we will be talking about the process of self-organization and asking the big questions about how do we get and sustain ordered patterns out of randomness and chaos? Lastly we will be looking at the process of evolution as a powerful and relentless force that shapes complex adaptive systems on the macro scale and we will be taking it apart to get a solid grasp of its basic functioning.

This course requires no prior specific knowledge of mathematics or science, it is designed as an introduction presenting concepts in a nonmathematical and intuitive form that should be accessible to anyone with an interest in the subject

What are the requirements?

  • There are no prerequisites to this course aside for a firm grasp of the english language and a basic level of general scientific knowledge

What am I going to get from this course?

  • The aim of this course is to give you a solid grasp of the core concepts within the domain of complex adaptive systems theory
  • By the end of the course you should be familiar with and be able to apply the most important models from complexity theory

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is intended for a broad group of people but will be particularly relevant for those with a background in math or science

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Complex Adaptive Systems Overview

In this video we will be giving an overview to the areas of complexity theory by looking at the major theoretical frameworks that are considered to form part of it and contribute to the study of complex systems. We will be briefly talking about systems theory, network theory, chaos theory and adaptive systems theory, before trying to provide an overview to the context and significance of this area in relation to contemporary science.


In this module we will be trying to define what exactly a complex system is, we will firstly talking about systems in general before going on to look at complexity as a product of a number of different parameters, where we will be discussing system's hierarchy, nonlinearity, connectivity, adaptation and self-organization.


In this module we will be giving a overview to complex adaptive systems, we will firstly define what we mean they this term, before briefly covering the main topics in this area as we talk about adaptation, the dynamics of cooperation and competition, self-organization and emergence, finally we will look at the complex interplay between the micro and macro patterns of organization that is a core feature to these systems.

Section 2: Adaptive Systems

In this module we are going to cover the basics of adaptive systems by firstly defining what they are, we will then illustrate the concept by discussing a number of examples, we will go on to talk about agency and how the capacity for adaptation gives rise to autonomy and diversity.


In this module we are going to talk about control systems from the perspective of systems theory and cybernetics, we will firstly define what they are and give some examples before introducing you to the basic components of a control system and its overall workings. Lastly we will talk about what it means for something to be self-regulated or under control.


In this module we are going to talk about the internal logic or schema that governs the behavior of agents within complex adaptive systems. This logic can span from the very elementary to the very complex and thus we will break it down into two different types, we will start with the most basic type of logic what are called algorithms and then go on to discuss more advanced conceptual systems, what are called schemata within the language of complex adaptive systems.

Section 3: Simple Rules

In this section to the course we are going to start our discussion on the major theme of self-organization by exploring one of the key premises of complex systems theory, which is that global coordination and complex behavior can emerge out of very simple rules governing the interaction between agents on the local level without need for centralized coordination.


In this module we will be discussing the role of feedback loops with respect to self-organization by looking at how they works to promote or de-promote the synchronization of states between elements within complex adaptive systems. We will start by talking about the different types of feedback loops while also discussing a number of example, we will then look at positive and negative externalities and finish by talking about the effects of combining both feedback loops and externalities.


In this video we are going to discuss cellular automata, we will firstly talk about what they are before looking at a classical example, we will then discuss individually the different classes of patterns that cellular automata can generate before wrapping-up with a talk about their significance as a new approach to mathematical modeling.


In this module we are going to talk about the dynamics of cooperation and competition between agents within complex systems. We will firstly discuss the general concept before looking at zero and positive-sum-games, following this we will be talking about negative externalities as we look at the so-called “tragedy of the commons “ and social dilemma.

Section 4: Self-Oorganization

In this video we will be talking about the process of self-organization within complex systems and the dynamic interplay between order and entropy that is thought to be required to enable it, we will firstly discuss different theories for the emergence of organization in so doing we will look at the first and second laws of thermodynamics, we will then talk about the rise of self-organization theory during the past century and lay down the basic framework through which this process is understood to take place.


In this module we will be talking about the theory of far-from-equilibrium self-organization, we will firstly discuss the concepts of order and randomness in terms of symmetry and information theory, we will then talk about complex as the product of an in between or phase transition state and finally will discuss the term edge-of-chaos and talk about how self-organization is though to be dependent upon noise and random fluctuations in order to stay generating variety.

Section 5: Evolution & Robustness

In this module we will be discussing robustness and resilience within self- organizing systems, we will firstly talk about what we mean by robustness, we will go on to discuss adaptation as a mechanism for resilience and why self- organizing systems are typically considered robust, we will look at the theory of requisite variety and finish by talking about self-organized criticality.


In this module we will be talking about the dynamics of evolution within complex systems, we will firstly define what we mean by the term, then look at its basic functioning by discussing each stage in the process and finally talk about evolution with respect to the development of complexity.


In this video we will present the concept of a fitness landscape as it is used to model complex adaptive systems, we will provide you with a basic description of how the model works, talk about the key parameter that affect its topology and finally look at the types of strategies used by agents within these different landscapes.

Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed

  • Loading
  • Loading
  • Loading

Instructor Biography

Think Academy, eLearning for systems thinking

Think Academy is an e-Learning site dedicated to the area of systems thinking and complexity theory, our mission is to take the world of complexity and make it accessible to all. Systems and complex can be intimidating subjects with many sophisticated concepts, this is why we believe it is important to always start with the most essential, simplest elements of a subject making sure that students come away with a solid understanding of the core concepts behind each area. As Einstein said "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler"

Courses are curated and presented by Joss Colchester. Joss has extensive experience within the domain of complex systems both within academic research(mathematical modeling of complex system + network analysis) and has many years practical systems engineering experience(designing and developing complex web based information systems). He has a passion for taking abstract and complex concepts and making them concrete and accessible to as broad an audience as possible by combining clear and effective graphics with well structured course content.

Ready to start learning?
Take This Course