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Complexity for Sustainable Development

Directions in Complex Systems for Sustainable Development

James Rising

on 11 June 2018

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Transcript of Complexity for Sustainable Development

Methods of complexity science
Complexity for Sustainable Development
James Rising
Science and Policy Summer School
May 31, 2018
What are complex systems?
Self-organized criticality in SD
The future of modeling for SusDev
The problems with the field
Systems that are Complex
The computer scientist's dream
Incomplete work, sloppy thinking
Dogmatic complexity-mongers
A focus on techniques
Ill-defined terms:
vs. complicated
18th c.: integrity of wholes
meaning of parts
circular causality
homeostasis and overdeterminism
gender, family, evolution
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Jay Forester
social embeddedness
big push development
Sets of elements standing in interaction
isomorphisms between contexts
information theory
Levels of Complexity
unorganized complexity (chance)
closed systems
thermodynamic drive to homogeneity

Systems Studies
non-linearity, chaos
"state" and evolution
cybernetics, equifinality, teleology
structures and feedback
open systems
continued dynamics

not used
Insights for Sustainable Develelopment
Leverage points
Structure influence behavior
Policy resistance
System archetypes
and mental models
1. Constants, parameters, numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards)
2. Material flows and nodes of material intersection
3. Regulating negative feedback loops
4. Driving positive feedback loops
5. Information flows
6. The rules of the system (incentives, punishments, constraints)
7. The distribution of power over the rules of the system
8. The goals of the system
9. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system– its goals, power structure, rules, its culture– arises
Systems thinking
Problems are self-created
See beyond events
We are boiled frogs
When placed in the same system, people, however different, tend to produce similar results
Today's problems come from yesterday's "solutions"
The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.
Behavior grows better before it grows worse.
The easy way out usually leads back in.
Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space.
Small changes can produce big results-- but the areas of highest leverate are often the least obvious.
social system dynamics
management, communication, understanding
Dividing an elephant in half doesn't make two small elephants.
data and history
fractal complexity

drive toward heterogeneity
Dialogue Wiki Engine

Fat-tailed distributions
Agent-Based Modeling
Information Theory
Network Theory
self-organized criticality
Insights for Sustainable Develelopment
small-world networks
spatiality matters, and most interesting systems don't tend toward equilibrium
Adaptive Networks
Historical Physics
history matters, in societies and ecosystems; you can't get places but by a path
A complex system's basic properties are much more likely to be a function of its content than context.
You can't know everything, but knowing nothing tells you a lot.
Problems with Complexity
SOC, networks, ABM
simplistic approaches,
disconnected from reality
Complexity done Right
evolutionary, cross-scale
calibration, validation
understanding element and whole
connections to reality
The coming revolution
new tools
for research, communication
networked systems, incomplete systems, overlapping systems, hierarchical systems
data analysis, estimators
Poverty Traps
Where is SOC?
applying many tools
combining agents and systems and networks
These make a difference!
new tipping points
scales and scale-free
Finding tipping points for change
Combining systems and space
Multiple Network Maps
Overlapping Models
Integrating Data
Computational Tools
Open Interfaces
Different stocks flow differently
Deaggregating through networks
Capture society's network properties
new language
better models
opportunities for change
how do we make networks dynamic?
how do we make systems precise?
Examples of Self-Organized Criticality
power-law temporal fluctuations
spatial self-similarity
emergent behavior
critical state
between chaos and order
near threshold of instability
far out of equilibrium
missing information
no fine parameter tuning
distributed in space/network
historical and heterogenous
driven by a force
towards a critical limit
locally and globally unstable
collapse and avalanche
large fluctuations
no "normal size" of events
variance is undefined
build-up and collapse equilibrium
fractal patches or
scale-free networks
Characteristics of
Are economies SOC?
economic networks are small-world (scale-free?)
similar behaviors a many scales (global to personal)
SOC Examples: human-impacted vegetation patterns (Barbier et al, 2006), academic papers (Barabasi and Albert, 1999), market prices (Cootner, 1964), politial popularity (Byers, 1991), war and conflict (Conybeare, 1990)
evolutionary, path-dependent, multiple equilibria
intense adaptive forces
endogenous but unpredictable
city size/abundance follows power law (Eeckhout, 2004), corporations too
price fluctuations follow 1/f noise (Pleurou et al, 1999)
society collapse follows a power law (Brunk, 2002)
But not everywhere...
City size distribution differs by country (Soo, 2005, Mulianta et al, 2004)
Price fluctuations in developing countries do not have scale-independence (Matia et al, 2004)
According to theory, log-log slope for Zipf law is 1.
High HDI countries have higher power-law slopes (greater decrease in abundance for increase in size)
High HDI countries more closely approximate a power-law (?)
City distribution characteristics, vs. HDI
Problems of Econometrics
Not Gaussian
Linearity is not innocuous.
Not least squres-- L1 norm?
rank-methods (e.g. copula)
Regressions can be tricked
Everything is endogenous
Variable errors are ubiquitous
Space, time, and history matter.
The crumbling ediface
spatial heterogeneity
finer tipping points
how to allow systems to vary
how to ensure matches aggregate
conceptualizing components that work along different networks
what about when not available?
incomplete, hierarchical, interacting
new handling of feedback
how to adjust parameters
how to determine hierarchical allotments
missing models fail gracefully
Why bigger models?
smaller tipping points
Precision? Debatable.
Accuracy? Better.
As a platform? If popular.
Challenges and Steps Forward
a context
research platform
better models
communication tool
Language of model building
model visualization
Modular simulation
intractable, systemic problems
spatially heterogenous
environmental problems
health problems
obesity, substance abuse
environmental degradation
groundwater use, fishery management
rebound and border leakage
passanger transporation
Technical Details
software framework
systems: intelligent objects
modular, abstractions
units and indicators
language? Toolbox.
importing Vensim
Systems Regression
Driving forces simplifier
Tipping point finder
Model evaluation
callibration and validation
defining flows
what of endogenous dynamics
data library (contextual, incomplete)
Hydrological model for Himalayan glaciers
Needed more efficiency: model it on a network!
Expanded Solow-model for poverty traps
Want to explore SOC: model it on a network!
memetic propogation of models
integration with climate modeling
Misspecified models
problems of statistical significance
big models, unverified models
testible hypotheses
better communication
how do we understand complex drivers?
e.g. behavior of a sandpile
e.g. sand slope instability
e.g. size of avalanches
e.g. slope area affected
Data: GapMinder
497 indicators
259 countries/territories
1. normalized year-to-year differences
2. HDI or
3. sort into bins by HDI deciles
4. estimate PDF by indicator-bin
5. calculate R for log-log regression
Peru's year-to-year indicator differences
Low SOC (R < .1)
Moderate SOC (R < .5, > .1)
High SOC (R > .5)
Rising SOC
Falling SOC
40-59 years- number
Crude oil production- total (toe)
Electricity consumption- total (kWh)
Fixed broadband Internet subscribers
GDP per employee- (constant 1990$)
Homicide 0-14 all age adj
Hydro production- total (toe)
Natural Gas Production total (tonnes oil equivalent)
Per capita government expenditure on health (PPP int. $)
Per capita government expenditure on health at average exchange rate (US$)
Per capita total expenditure on health (PPP int. $)
Population density (per square km)
Proportion of the population using improved sanitation facilities- total
Residential electricity consumption- total (kWh)
Suicide 15-29 all age adj
Suicide 45-59 all age adj
Tax revenue (% of GDP)
TB incidence- all forms in HIV+ (per year)
Total above 60- number
Total CO2 emissions from fossil-fuels (metric tons)
Total water withdrawal per capita (m3/inhab/yr)
Urban population (% of total)
Air accidents killed
DOTS all new case detection rate (%)
DOTS new smear-positive case detection rate (%)
DOTS treatment success (%)
Lung Female Mortality
Male 15-64 labour to population (%)
Male 15+ labour to population (%)
Male above 15 employment to population (%)
Neonates protected at birth against neonatal tetanus (PAB) (%)
Total 15+ labour to population (%)
Total 25-54 labour to population (%)
Total expenditure on health as percentage of GDP (gross domestic product)
Whole country all new case detection rate (%)
Whole country new smear-positive case detection rate (%)
Agricultural land (% of land area)
CO2 emissions (kg per 2005 PPP $ of GDP)
Crude oil production- per capita (toe)
Electricity consumption- per capita (kWh)
Energy production- per capita (toe)
Energy production- total (toe)
Energy use- per capita (toe)
Exports of goods and services (% of GDP)
Exports unit value (index- 2000=100)
External debt stocks (% of GNI)
Fixed broadband Internet subscribers (per 100 people)
Foreign direct investment- net inflows (% of GDP)
Foreign direct investment- net outflows (% of GDP)
GDP per capita growth (annual %)
Gross capital formation (% of GDP)
High-technology exports (% of manufactured exports)
Homicide 15-29 all
Homicide 30-44 all age adj
Homicide 45-59 all age adj
Hydro production- per capita (toe)
Import value index (2000 = 100)
Imports of goods and services (% of GDP)
income per person
Industry- value added (% of GDP)
Inflation- GDP deflator (annual %)
Internet users (per 100 people)
Male 15-19 years (%)
Male 5-9 years (%)
Male above 60 (%)
Merchandise trade (% of GDP)
Military expenditure (% of GDP)
Murder per 100-000- age adjusted
Murdered women- per 100-000- age adjusted
Natural Gas Production per person (tonnes oil equivalent)
Net barter terms of trade (2000 = 100)
Out-of-pocket expenditure as percentage of total health expenditure
People living with HIV
Population growth (annual %)
Residential electricity consumption- per person (kWh)
RTI 30-44 all age adj
RTI 45-59 all age adj
SBP female (mm Hg)- age standardized mean
Services- etc.- value added (% of GDP)
Suicide 0-14 all age adj
Suicide 30-44 all age adj
Suicide 60+ all age adj
TC female (mmol/L)- age standardized mean
TC male (mmol/L)- age standardized mean
Total 0-4 years (%)
Total 15-19 years (%)
Total 40-59 years (%)
Total above 60 (%)
Total GDP (PPP 2005 intl.D)
Total population both sexes
Total population female
Total population male
Total reserves (% of total external debt)
Trade balance (current US$)
Traffic mortality per 100-000- age adjusted
Traffic mortality women- per 100-000- age adjusted
Urban population
Urban population growth (annual %)
Water resources: total internal renewable per capita (m3/inhab/yr)
5-9 years- number
Adult literacy rate (%). Female
Adult literacy rate (%). Male
Adult literacy rate (%). Total
Agricultural water withdrawal as % of total water withdrawal (%)
Aid received % of GNI
Aid received per person (current US$)
Air accidents affected
Annual number of AIDS deaths
Arms exports (constant 1990 US$)
Births attended by skilled health staff (% of total)
Contraceptive prevalence (% of women ages 15-49)
Democracy score
Dependency ratio
Drought affected
Epidemic killed
Estimated ART Coverage (CD4 < 350)
Estimated HIV Prevalence% - (Ages 15-49)
Estimated new births
Estimated new HIV infections (All ages)
External debt stocks- total (DOD- current US$)
Female 5-9 years (%)
Female 65+ labour to population (%)
Female above 60 (%)
Forest area (sq. km)
GINI index
Homicide 60+ all age adj
Income share held by fourth 20%
Income share held by highest 10%
Income share held by lowest 10%
Income share held by lowest 20%
Income share held by second 20%
Income share held by third 20%
Industrial water withdrawal as % of total water withdrawal (%)
Infant Mortality Rate
Male 0-4 years (%)
Male 10-14 years (%)
Male 20-39 years (%)
Male 25-54 labour to population (%)
Male 40-59 years (%)
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)
Mobile cellular subscriptions- total number
Municipal water withdrawal as % of total withdrawal (%)
Municipal water withdrawal per capita (m3/inhab/yr)
New and relapse cases
New and relapse cases (per 100 000 population)
New smear-positive cases (per 100 000 population)
One-year-olds immunized with MCV (%)
One-year-olds immunized with three doses of Hepatitis B (HepB3) (%)
PC per 100
Per capita total expenditure on health at average exchange rate (US$)
Personal computers
Population in urban agglomerations of more than 1 million (% of total population)
Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP) (% of population)
Poverty headcount ratio at $2 a day (PPP) (% of population)
Proportion of the population using improved drinking water sources- rural
Proportion of the population using improved drinking water sources- total
Proportion of the population using improved drinking water sources- urban
Proportion of the population using improved sanitation facilities- rural
Proportion of the population using improved sanitation facilities- urban
Reported Cases
Reported cases per 100000
Reported Deaths
Reported Deaths per 100000
Roads- paved (% of total roads)
RTI 15-29 all age adj
RTI 60+ all age adj
Stillbirth rate
Suicide among men- per 100 000- age adjusted
TB incidence- all forms (per 100 000 population per year)
TB incidence- all forms in HIV+ (per 100 000 population per year)
TB incidence- smear-positive (per 100 000 population per year)
TB mortality- all forms (per 100 000 population per year)
TB mortality- all forms in HIV+ (per 100 000 population per year)
TB mortality- all forms in HIV+ (per year)
TB prevalence- all forms (per 100 000 population per year)
TB prevalence- all forms in HIV+ (per 100 000 population per year)
TB prevalence- all forms in HIV+ (per year)
Total 10-14 years (%)
Total 20-39 years (%)
Total 5-9 years (%)
Total fertility rate
Total water withdrawal (summed by sector) (10^9 m3/yr)
Trade balance (% of GDP)
Traffic mortality men- per 100-000- age adjusted
Under 5 mortality rate from CMEinfo
Youth literacy rate (%). Female
Youth literacy rate (%). Male
Youth literacy rate (%). Total
0-14 yrs sex ratio
15-24 yrs sex ratio
15-49 yrs sex ratio
Agriculture- value added (% of GDP)
Arms imports (constant 1990 US$)
Breast Female Mortality
Cervix Female Mortality
Children per woman
Colon & Rectum Female Mortality
Colon & Rectum Male Mortality
Crude birth rate (births per 1000 population)
Debt servicing costs (% of exports and net income from abroad)
Female 0-4 years (%)
Female 15-24 employment to population (%)
Female 15-64 labour to population (%)
Female 15+ labour to population (%)
Female 25-54 labour to population(%)
Female above 15 employment to population (%)
General government expenditure on health as percentage of total expenditure on health
General government expenditure on health as percentage of total government expenditure
Income per person (PPP) with projections
Life expectancy at brith
Male 15-24 employment to population (%)
Male 65+ labour to population (%)
Malnutrition prevalence- weight for age (% of children under 5)
Murdered men- per 100-000- age adjusted
One-year-olds immunized with three doses of diphtheria tetanus toxoid and pertussis (DTP3) (%)
Per capita CO2 emissions (metric tons of carbon)
Private expenditure on health as percentage of total expenditure on health
Stomach Female Mortality
Stomach Male Mortality
Suicide women age adjusted
Suicide- age adjusted- per 100 000 standard population
Total 15-24 employment to population (%)
Total 15-64 labour to population (%)
Total 65+ labour to population (%)
Total above 15 employment to population (%)
Under-five mortality rate
0-4 years- number
10-14 years- number
15-19 years- number
20-39 years- number
50+ yrs sex ratio
Annual population growth rate (%)
Crude death rate (deaths per 1-000 population)
DOTS population coverage (%)
Energe use- total (toe)
Epidemic affected
Female 10-14 years (%)
Female 15-19 years (%)
Female 20-39 years (%)
Female 40-59 years (%)
Flood affected
Flood killed
Forest coverage (%)
Income share held by highest 20%
Lung Male Mortality
Median age
Prostate Male Mortality
Road traffic total deaths
RTI 0-14 all age adj
SBP male (mm Hg)- age standardized mean
Storm affected
Storm killed
Surface area (sq. km)
Total sex ratio
Water resources: total renewable per capita (actual) (m3/inhab/yr)
counterintuitive effects
system regressions
Insights for Sustainable Development
importance of scale, or scaling
agent bias and alternatives
self-organization support
critical value support
collapse facilitation
critical competition
importance of "noise"
The noise spikes in SOC systems are called flicker noise, but are actual events, rather than `measurement errors.' Here, usually insignicant events sometimes cause complexity cascades that propagate within a system to produce very large `noise' spikes that appear to us as unexpected events. These cascades are situations where an initially small, and perhaps insignicant-seeming action generates a macro-level event, such as a currency collapse, war, market bubble, riot, bank run, electoral landslide, or a government collapse. - Brunk (2002)
importance of instability
Do traps represent too much instability or too little?
instability serves self-organized resilience
but too much instability undermines cooperation (Perry 1995)
Model of SOC economy (Brunk 2002)
development pushes toward interconnectedness
but collapses of nodes can avalanche
Is the process that causes development to fail external to the process of development itself?
SOC found in riot and strike growth (Bohstedt and Williams, 1988, Midlarsky, 1978) and urban collapse (Brunk, 2002b, Tainter, 1990).
Poverty Traps
1. Solow Growth
2. Distributed Model
Circular graph of firms
Each firm has individual capital stock, L/N labor, and Cobb-Douglas production
Growth is "distributed Solow"
growth term:
decay term:
and probability of collapse
Connections increase "technology" (specialization) multiple in production.
When collapse, capital set to 0 and connections severed.
Every time step, some firms get connections.
Agent Bias
New SOC Relations
Solow Model
Distributed Solow Model
To start: A caveat
Complexity science struggles to be distinguished from its methods.
Agent-based modeling : Complexity :: Econometrics : Economics
Many courses sadly equate the two.
Complexity science also involves:
Models of complexity (SOC, Ising, Network growth)
Deep insights requiring much more discussion (What "is" complexity?)
A catalog of methods
Statistical identification/generation of
Information theory
Maximum entropy
Cellular automata
Network analysis
Agent-based modeling
Cross-scale analysis
Genetic algorithms
Machine learning
Cartesian space
arbitrary space
>1 decision-maker
>1 scale
innumerable state-space
innumerable solution-space
non-linear dynamics
non-Gaussian stats
Complex Statistics
Understanding emergence
Complex Networks
Solving problems
Classical statistics assume
Gaussian distributions
Smooth changes
Few things behave this way.
When is the complexity important?
1. When you have
2. When you have
3. When you have
4. When you have
5. When you have
6. When you have

Small differences lead to big changes
Easy to produce: feedback and nonlinerity
Detect by looking at frequencies
Std. deviation is undefined (maybe mean too).
More data does not result in closer estimate
Regression, correlation, ... fail
Easy to detect, if you look:
Plot distribution of values/residuals
Look at tails in Q-Q plot
Alternatives under long-tails
Take a log, if you can
Quantile regression (quantreg in R)
Cauchy or student-t link GLM
Translate into ranks
Coastlines and rivers
Random walks
Market expectations
Ecosystem niches
Economic niches
Compare the mean to the variance across several samples.
Random distribution: variance = mean
Even distribution: low variance for any mean
Clustered distribution: high variance for any mean

Networks are a kind of data, like spatial grids.
Only interesting if you can do something with them.
Statistics on Networks
Dynamic networks
Dynamics on networks
Degree distributions
Average distance
Look at how networks grow or shrink.
Regular lattice
Preferential attachment model
Continually add new vertices
Attach them to nodes based on
current node attachment
Zipf's Laws
Paper references
Success-to-successful economics
How do networks shrink?
Influence: connections, average-distance, small-world, communities, eigen-connectivity, ...
Indications for use
Scale-free networks
Scale-free network
Random network
Traditional problems have a small parameter space.
What if you have an
parameter space?
Machine learning
Genetic algorithms
Any number of distinctions
Variance-bias trade-off
Big models of interactions
Small models of assumptions
ABMs are like analytical models:
Each agent has a set of rules
The system as a whole evolves
Could write out that evolution as a single dynamic equation (in theory)
Good for falsifying theories of emergence
Example model: Zombie apocalypse
Population of agents:
Each is either infected or not
Every time a zombie interacts with a non-zombie, there's a probability p that the non-zombie becomes a zombie.
Analytical Model
Agent-based model
z is the population of zombies
s is the population of non-zombies
Interaction equation says:
dz / dt = z (p - z)
Zombies and non-zombies randomly move to adjacent unoccupied squares.
If zombie next to non-zombie, consider as interacting.
A cellular automata
Classic examples
Biology and Economy
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