|InterJournal Complex Systems, 237
|Manuscript Number: |
Submission Date: 981214
|Where is Complexity ?|
Although there is not a precise definition of what is a Complex System, the notion that Complexity is not an intrinsic property of the systems that are said to be complex has been often pointed out. Complexity appears as a property of a given description of the observed system, and describing the system is always performed by a certain observer, at a specific level of abstraction or detail. This general idea, known as context-dependence, emphasises the narrow relation between the complexity of a system and the structure that is chosen to describe it. The relation between complexity and structure is so narrow that the former can be seen as an emergent property of the later; in such a way that, for a given system, different levels of complexity may be assigned depending on the structure we apply to describe it. While complexity behaves like a second-order property with respect to the observed system, the structure itself can be looked at as the scale underlying any complexity measure. In this work we propose an approach for evaluating complexity in hierarchically organised systems. Hierarchical structures are ubiquitous in Science as they have been for centuries applied in knowledge organisation. More recently, in the study of complex systems they participate in the characterisation of situations of remarkable relevance as self-similarity and emergence.
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