Santa Fe Institute

What to do with 'big data' when we don't yet have a theory of complex systems

May 15, 2013 1:31 p.m.

A column in Scientific American by SFI Distinguished Professor Geoffrey West makes the case for a theory of complex systems.

The availability of "big data" driven by the digital revolution creates an opportunity for scientists to understand complex systems much more deeply, he writes.

"The trouble is, we don't have a unified, conceptual framework for addressing questions of complexity. We don't know what kind of data we need, nor how much, or what critical questions we should be asking. 'Big data' without a 'big theory' to go with it loses much of its potency and usefulness, potentially generating new unintended consequences."

Read the article in Scientific American (May 9, 2013)

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