Complex Systems and Complex Failure

Found this blog post intriguing.

Grand Strategy: The View from Oregon


There is a famous verse that exists in many different forms, but is most familiar, I think, in this version of For Want of a Nail:

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Today we know this as the “Butterfly Effect.” We are familiar with the Butterfly effect from popular expositions of chaos theory. Choas theory has rapidly become the central theoretical reference point for studying complexity, but we don’t even have to invoke chaos theory in order to discuss cascading failures in complex systems.

The “for want of a nail”…

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I am professor, emeritus, of nursing at Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas

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