The astronomy/telescope metaphor was used to refer to
the coupling of a challenge, Policies for Global Systems
with an instrument New Tools in Computer Science:
Big Data, Simulation tools , Visualisation.
The Challenge and the Tools might not be sufficient;
if we carry on the metaphor, the success of 16/17th century Physics
was certainly made possible by Tycho Brahe, Galileo and Copernic,
but it was fully exploited by theoretists such as Kepler and Newton.
Thanks to theoretists, the discoveries in Astronomy were generalised
and transferred to the much larger domain covered by Mechanics.
Theory is an important part of our understanding of the world.
Theory does not necessarily imply a comprehensive new World vision,
such as Quantum Physics or Relativity.
But it certainly includes unifying concepts and new methods.
In the case of Complex systems, new concepts were for instance percolation,
avalanches and SOC, classification by attractors, classes of universality,
dynamical regimes and transitions…
while new methods include renormalisation, replicas, damage spreading
and Liapunov exponents, search and learning algorithms.
GSS needs not only tools but also Theory.
One thought on “Theory”
Indeed, Gérard, and that is one of the very important things GSS should achieve. In the current blizzard of information this is more challenging than at a time when reductionism was inevitable simply because we did not have the information, nor the capacity to analyze it. I personally think that this is for some time going to be the principal challenge of ICT: how to digest Big Data. A certain little booklet by Saint-Éxupéry comes to mind, in which a boa constrictor attempts to swallow an elephant whole, so that seen ‘en profil’ one actually sees a hat.