Understanding Complexity

Course No. 5181
Professor Scott E. Page, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Share This Course
4.5 out of 5
117 Reviews
88% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 5181
Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

Recent years have seen the introduction of concepts from the new and exciting field of complexity science that have captivated the attention of economists, sociologists, engineers, businesspeople, and many others.

These include

  • tipping points, the sociological term used to describe moments when unique or rare phenomena become more commonplace;
  • the wisdom of crowds, the argument that certain types of groups harness information and make decisions in more effective ways than individuals;
  • six degrees of separation, the idea that it takes no more than six steps to find some form of connection between two random individuals; and
  • emergence, the idea that new properties, processes, and structures can emerge unexpectedly from complex systems.

Interest in these intriguing concepts is widespread because of the utility of this field. Complexity science can shed light on why businesses or economies succeed and fail, how epidemics spread and can be stopped, and what causes ecological systems to rebalance themselves after a disaster.

In fact, complexity science is a discipline that may well hold the key to unlocking the secrets of some of the most important forces on Earth. But it's also a science that remains largely unknown, even among well-educated people.

Now you can discover and grasp the fundamentals and applications of this amazing field with Understanding Complexity. Professor Scott E. Page-one of the field's most highly regarded teachers, researchers, and real-world practitioners-introduces you to this vibrant and still evolving discipline. In 12 lucid lectures, you learn how complexity science helps us understand the nature and behavior of systems formed of financial markets, corporations, native cultures, governments, and more.

What Makes a System Complex?

What defines a system as complex, as opposed to being merely

Hide Full Description
12 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Complexity—What Is It? Why Does It Matter?
    Learn what the experts mean when they talk about "complex" systems. Discover why these networks of diverse, connected, and adaptive entities acting in interdependent ways are so powerful, and why understanding them is crucial to so many disciplines. x
  • 2
    Simple, Rugged, and Dancing Landscapes
    Using the concept of a mountainous landscape as both metaphor and mathematical object, you begin to grasp the ways in which concepts like "rugged" or "dancing" landscapes—where adaptation and learning are vital for survival—can be visualized even by nonmathematicians. x
  • 3
    The Interesting In-Between
    You develop your understanding of complexity's key components of interdependence, connectedness, diversity, and adaptation/learning. And you learn—by figuratively dialing the strength of each of these components up or down—why the proper balance between them is essential if a system is to be complex. x
  • 4
    Why Different Is More
    Variance and diversity have very different meanings in the world of complexity theory. Grasping that difference puts you on the way to understanding how complex systems achieve diversity and why diversity enables them to be both innovative and robust, maintaining functionality even when the system is disturbed. x
  • 5
    Explore Exploit—The Fundamental Trade-Off
    Actors in complex systems face a constant tradeoff. Do they exploit the knowledge already learned in past explorations to achieve a solution? Or do they continue to explore, seeking an even better solution? Learn the pros and cons of each, and how the best balance can be achieved. x
  • 6
    Emergence I—Why More Is Different
    One of the most fascinating ideas in complexity theory is that of emergence, the spontaneous creation of order and functionality from the bottom up, with no "central planner" putting them into place. You gain an appreciation of the two kinds of emergence and why each is a source of wonder. x
  • 7
    Emergence II—Network Structure and Function
    Continuing the discussion of emergence, you see how emergence applies to networks and why network theory has become such an active discipline. And you understand how modern complexity theory adds to the study of networks the previously ignored element of space. x
  • 8
    Agent-Based Modeling—The New Tool
    Agent-based modeling—in which computers model complex systems from interdependent agents—may be complexity theory's most promising tool. Its full potential hasn't yet been realized, but this lecture offers a taste of what it can already achieve in disciplines as disparate as fire prevention and disease transmission. x
  • 9
    Feedbacks—Beehives, QWERTY, the Big Sort
    Drill even deeper into the implications of interdependent agents as you focus on the idea of feedbacks—both the positive ones, in which "more creates more," and the negative ones, in which "more creates less." x
  • 10
    The Sand Pile—Self-Organized Criticality
    Complex systems often create large events. Using the example of how a single unscreened passenger in Atlanta delayed flights and passengers across the nation, you are introduced to one of the key concepts that explain how complex systems can be so powerful. x
  • 11
    Complexity versus Uncertainty
    There is a vast difference between thinking of events as "random" and recognizing them as the output of a complex system. Explore three conventional explanations of randomness before turning to a fourth—the interdependent rules-based analysis offered by complexity theory. x
  • 12
    Harnessing Complexity
    Although complex systems can't be controlled, we may well be able, with proper respect, to harness them. Learn why conventional decision theory doesn't work in complex environments and what a proper use of complexity theory might promise us instead. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 12 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 64-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 64-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Scott E. Page

About Your Professor

Scott E. Page, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Professor Scott E. Page received a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He then received his M.S. in Business and his Ph.D. in Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He completed his Ph.D. thesis under the guidance of Stan Reiter and Nobel laureate Roger Myerson. He has...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor

Reviews

Understanding Complexity is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 117.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good course Highly recommended course. suitable for students, teachers/lecturers, practitioners and enthusiasts of complex systems (and complex projects management)
Date published: 2020-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A satisfactory work I really enjoyed this course because it helped to visualize complex issues with a realistic view. The nice thing about this subject is that it can apply to many disciplines. The professor has great examples to illustrate the concepts. I recommend this course.
Date published: 2020-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Short overview of complex subject One of the shortest course it provided an overview which helped with an elementary understanding of complexity. Would have been helpful if some of the individual lessons were expended.
Date published: 2020-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent teacher, excellent production I'm slowly getting through the lectures; a LOT of material to absorb! But I'm learning. The professor makes numerous references to everyday analogous examples which makes it easier to relate situations I'm familiar with to the difficult (but not complex!) concepts presented. I HIGHLY recommend this course. It is especially relevant in understanding the complexity (the correct word here) of solving the corona virus pandemic in the contexts of both biology and economics.
Date published: 2020-04-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from May be complex mathematically but that's all. The mathematical formulations are complex but with no actual data from experiments to back up the math.
Date published: 2020-03-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dissapointing I found this course pretty unsatisfying. I found the presentation lethargic and his terminology annoying, eg: Shifting landscapes would seem more appropriate than dancing landscapes. Dancing implies a rhythmic repeating motion.
Date published: 2020-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Overview of Complexity Theory Professor Page did a magnificent job introducing the subject of complexity theory. His lectures were designed well in terms of content and sequence. This course provides a great jumping off point for further study.
Date published: 2019-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Course But.. Wonderful, would have been excellent, but I have two issues: 1) Course Guide Book too brief - could have included more information & summaries. Obviously not much of an effort put in compared to the many other courses I have. Barely serves as a reference to go back to. 2) Lecturer is talented, but he talks way, way too fast for "old"ears.
Date published: 2019-08-06
  • y_2020, m_9, d_28, h_16
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.12
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_12, tr_105
  • loc_en_US, sid_5181, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 11.94ms
  • REVIEWS, PRODUCT

Questions & Answers

Buy together as a Set
and
Save Up To $188.00
Choose a Set Format
$44.90
$61.90