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Complex Systems Science: Dreams of Universality, Reality of Interdisciplinarity

Abstract : Using a large database (~ 215 000 records) of relevant articles, we empirically study the "complex systems" field and its claims to find universal principles applying to systems in general. The study of references shared by the papers allows us to obtain a global point of view on the structure of this highly interdisciplinary field. We show that its overall coherence does not arise from a universal theory but instead from computational techniques and fruitful adaptations of the idea of self-organization to specific systems. We also find that communication between different disciplines goes through specific "trading zones", ie sub-communities that create an interface around specific tools (a DNA microchip) or concepts (a network).
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Contributor : Sebastian Grauwin <>
Submitted on : Monday, June 11, 2012 - 9:58:16 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 12:26:07 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, December 15, 2016 - 1:05:15 PM


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Sebastian Grauwin, Guillaume Beslon, Eric Fleury, Sara Franceschelli, Céline Robardet, et al.. Complex Systems Science: Dreams of Universality, Reality of Interdisciplinarity. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), 2012, 63 (7), pp.10.1002/asi.22644. ⟨10.1002/asi.22644⟩. ⟨hal-00706567⟩



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