1. InfoBase
  2. Glossaries
  3. Individual glossary pages

effective complexity


effective complexity (EC) is the length of a concise description of a set of regularities (found by mutual information (MI) in a system;  EC assists in the differentiation of the terms complex, simple, complicated, chaos, and stochastic.

DSRP and VMCL are simple rules that underlie the complex adaptive systems (CAS) of thinking and organizations, respectively. 

It turns out that while it is true that:

  • simple systems are simple,
  • complicated systems are complicated,
  • complex systems are complex,
  • chaotic systems are chaotic, and
  • stochastic (random) systems are stochastic (random)

It is also true that there is a deep and surprising relationship between complex adaptive systems (CAS) (such as complex cognition or "systems thinking" and organizations) and simple rules. This means, somewhat paradoxically, that:

  • complex systems are also simple

Any determination of "complexity" is DSRP-intersubjective. However, the following images provide a good guide for how these terms are distinguished.

Effective Complexity

Another way of illustrating the above is as follows:

Effective Complexity2



See also: