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A complex system is a system composed of many components which may interact with each other. Examples of complex systems are Earth's global climate, organisms, the human brain, infrastructure such as power grid, transportation or communication systems, complex software and electronic systems, social and economic organizations (like cities), an ecosystem, a living cell, and ultimately the entire universe.
Complex systems are systems whose behavior is intrinsically difficult to model due to the dependencies, competitions, relationships, or other types of interactions between their parts or between a given system and its environment. Systems that are "complex" have distinct properties that arise from these relationships, such as nonlinearity, emergence, spontaneous order, adaptation, and feedback loops, among others. Because such systems appear in a wide variety of fields, the commonalities among them have become the topic of their independent area of research. In many cases, it is useful to represent such a system as a network where the nodes represent the components and links to their interactions.
The term complex systems often refers to the study of complex systems, which is an approach to science that investigates how relationships between a system's parts give rise to its collective behaviors and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment. The study of complex systems regards collective, or system-wide, behaviors as the fundamental object of study; for this reason, complex systems can be understood as an alternative paradigm to reductionism, which attempts to explain systems in terms of their constituent parts and the individual interactions between them.
As an interdisciplinary domain, complex systems draws contributions from many different fields, such as the study of self-organization and critical phenomena from physics, that of spontaneous order from the social sciences, chaos from mathematics, adaptation from biology, and many others. Complex systems is therefore often used as a broad term encompassing a research approach to problems in many diverse disciplines, including statistical physics, information theory, nonlinear dynamics, anthropology, computer science, meteorology, sociology, economics, psychology, and biology.
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