Santa Fe Institute

The Principles of Complexity

Video: Overview of SFI's research of the principles of complexity

From the rise of complex human institutions such as cities and nation states, to the evolution of intelligence in natural systems, complexity is a pervasive feature of our universe, our society, and our biological selves. Why should that be, and how can we study complexity, understand it, even predict its future forms across systems and scales?

As part of a three-year, $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation (, the Santa Fe Institute is pursuing three long-term research projects that together seek deeper quantitative and theoretic understanding of the nature of complexity in the social and biological worlds:

  • The evolution of complexity and intelligence on earth (more)
  • The hidden laws that pervade complex phenomena, especially biological and social phenomena (more)
  • Universal patterns in the emergence of complex societies (more)

The grant also supports the creation of an online education resource, the Complexity Explorer (more), that will offer materials for both educators and learners in the sciences of complexity. More

The Santa Fe Institute thanks the John Templeton Foundation for its generous support of the work summarized on these pages.