RE: Re(4): virus: Forwarding: some comments about the concept

David McFadzean (
Tue, 09 Jan 1996 16:05:45 -0700

At 02:27 PM 08/01/96 -0500, wrote:

>could you detail precisely in what way you view the computer and its
>functions as a "recurrent complex dynamic system"? Every single one of
>those words carries so many connotations... I'm not sure how strictly you
>are employing them here... as analogy or mathematical proposition, etc..

Recurrent as in a recurrent neural net: having feedback, mutually causal.
Incidentally feedback is a necessary if not sufficient condition for
a chaotic system.

I'm using "complex dynamic system" to mean a system that displays
behavior that is neither periodic nor chaotic, but somewhere in
between with respect to predictability. (See Chris Langton's
"Life at the Edge of Chaos" in Artificial Life II (Addison-Wesley, 1992)
for a readable quantitative analysis).

> I would say that although human/computer interaction entails many levels
>of feedback, computer causality and human causality possess some very
>divergent characteristics of "complexity" and "dynamism" at this point in
>evolution... most notably, the ability to self-organize (with all the

Agreed, even the tiniest worm displays more complex behavior than
contemporary computers but the gap is rapidly closing.

>attendant implications that carries for information 'storage' and
>'retrieval', non-localized yet co-ordinated neural firings, etc.) which
>I've always assumed to be a cornerstone of the definition of "complexity",
>itself... Although computer applications and architectures currently

I think the ability to self-organize is an emergent (or more technically,
supervenient) property of complex dynamic systems (as opposed to a
"cornerstone" if I am interpreting your connotations correctly).

>exhibit certain restrained "complex" behaviors, I would not go so far as to
>label them complex systems *in and of themselves* networks are
>a different matter completely... the 'ol "More is Different" adage... Or,
>is that what you're suggesting in the first place?

I don't think computer networks are a different matter completely
since a computer can perfectly simulate a network (albeit more slowly
than the real thing) and vice versa.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Merak Projects Ltd.