NECSI Resources

 International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2007)

What is Simplicity

Jonathan Post
Computer Futures, Inc.

Phil Fellman
Southern New Hampshire University

     Full text: PDF
     Last modified: October 16, 2007

In this paper, we follow the work of Alan Baker (2001) as well as our own work, in order to confront the inherent problems in the concept of simplicity. We begin by debunking the myth of "Occam's Razor" (which, in fact, has surprisingly little to do with William of Ockham) and then continue into the realm of descriptive statistics and fininte mathematics to demonstrate the ill-defined and fuzzy use of terms like "simple' and modifiers like "simpler". We conclude by introducing some concepts from information theory to demonstrate what objective measures of complexity and simplicity look like under well-defined conditions, and then we conclude with examples from biochemistry and quantum mechanics to demonstrate additional ways in which complexity is an inherent and irreducible property of nature.

Maintained by NECSI Webmaster Copyright © 2000-2007 New England Complex Systems Institute. All rights reserved.