ATENÇÃO: NÃO É PARA DISCUTIR E SIM PARA TRADUZIR. MENCIONE O PEDAÇO (OU OS PEDAÇOS) QUE VOCÊ TRADUZIU E PUBLIQUE A TRADUÇÃO NO CAMPO DE COMENTÁRIOS.
FP — What is the difference between something that is complex and something that is organized in a networked fashion? At times you have the notion of complexity and at times the notion of links. They appear to be almost two versions of what networks are.
FC — There are two issues here: metabolism is the totality of life processes, and it involves a continuous flow of energy and matter through an organism. The food comes in and flows through a network. It is being processed, digested, taken apart, recombined. And this always creates waste.
So, there are these two aspects: the flow process and the network pattern. Both are part of metabolism.
With regard to complexity, I think the main characteristic of a complex system is that it is nonlinear. Complexity theory is a set of mathematical concepts and techniques that deal with nonlinear systems. A network, by definition, is nonlinear. The significance of this property was recognized already in the days of cybernetics. The cyberneticists were very interested in networks but did not have the mathematical tools to deal with nonlinearity. They invented all kinds of mathematical techniques, but they did not have the powerful computers that we now have to deal with nonlinear equations and to simulate nonlinear systems.
A network is intrinsically nonlinear. Moreover, the equations that describe the flow process in the metabolism are also nonlinear. So you have nonlinearity in the mathematical expressions of the flow process and in the network structure. Prigogine linked nonlinearity to states far from equilibrium, from thermodynamic and chemical equilibrium. The higher the non-linearity in the equations, the farther away the system will be from equilibrium. The major achievement of complexity theory, which is technically called nonlinear dynamics, has been to show that a system far from equilibrium has very unusual and unsuspected properties, in particular the process of emergence, or bifurcation, where new structures or new behavior emerge from points of instability, or bifurcation points.
This is the essence of complexity. Some people even define complexity by saying the more bifurcation points in a system the higher the complexity.
There are many people now who study networks and who do not apply complexity theory. This is still something to come. And once they will do it, there will be huge progress; there will be a quantum leap, if you wish.
FP — Using your terminology, we could say that most scientists are limiting themselves to the pattern and maybe the structural perspective. But they do not put in enough of the process, because when you focus on the process, then you have the emergence.
FC — That's true. You could say that. I had not thought about it in this way.