On Thursday, December 15, 1994, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Economic Council cosponsored a seminar on developments in the field of complexity theory and dynamic modeling as these developments relate to public policymaking. The briefing provided White House staff with the opportunity to gain insight into cutting-edge research in science and economics as it applies to public policy.

This memo summarizes the key points of the briefings and provides a list of additional resources on complexity theory.

Complexity theory attempts to understand fundamental relationships and causes and effects of complex events of physical and/or social origins.

At our request, well known science writer and author of Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos M. Mitchell Waldrop, and Professor W. Brian Arthur, a principal pioneer in the field of complexity theory, currently with the Santa Fe Institute, presented their views on the implications of complexity theory for improved understanding of public policy issues. The speakers were chosen on the basis of their outstanding contribution, in the case of Mitch Waldrop, to the public understanding of the significance of complexity theory, and in the case of Brian Arthur, to a deeper understanding of technological change and economic growth.

Author: Caroline Wagner

Rand Corporation

A Short Complexity Theory Bibliography

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