the real world today

Commuting fragment: Julia sets

When people speak to me about complexity, I often pause and consider the synonyms that they might have used, if they were to be precise. Complexity can register perplexity, while posing for control. It may blow mists of befuddlement, a common response to getting lost in  big data. It often stands in for obfuscation, or at least muddies the waters on the values that inform any response to the usual murky predicaments those who govern must devise. And at times it can mean messy, intricate, gloriously defiant of human explanation in mere words, or just too big for figures of speech.

The paradox of complexity, which so many who wear it like a pinned icon on their lapels do not know, is that it can be described quite precisely, with mathematical formulae and even striking fractal graphs. It emerges from repeated iterations of sometimes simple operations. The simple formula for repeated iterations give rise to the strange, complex beauty of the Mandelbrot set or the Julia set presented here. 

So when next presented with a rush to cage complexity in a 4-by-4 checkbox chart, pause and reflect on the unpredictability of simple actions, as pictured in the Julia set

Leave a Reply