Thoughts on Simplifying complexity: a review of complexity theory (Manson 2000)

This paper thoroughly reviewed and examined the field of complexity. By diving and recognizing three different kind of complexity theories: 1) algorithmic complexity; 2) deterministic complexity; 3) aggregate complexity. The author systematically explained each complexity theory with different implication and future research opportunities, opens a new door for me as a urban researcher.

I do agree with the author that complexity needs to have more attention from geographers and planners, since from my first class of urban geography, I have been taught and agreed that cities are open systems that the public and academics have yet found a way to understand. Thus, to better simplify cities and urban research areas, understanding the complexity is the first step. Although, the majority of urban researchers seek to simplify urban environments to reach a empirical theory/statement/knowledge. However, simplification needs to be done after fully understanding the complexity of the existing study objects. In urban geography and planning, I doubt anyone had ever thoroughly comprehend all the underlying components that makes a city work. Thus, there is necessity for urban researches and GIScientists to study the algorithmic, deterministic, and aggregate complexity before proposing a simplified models. In the realm of urban related study, the need for complexity research is urgent, before this study area became a palace build on the cloud.

In addition, for GIScientists especially, understanding and studying algorithmic complexity might be the future trend of study, regardless the field their study objective landed at. Since the discipline’s technological foundation makes GIScientists easier to be aware of such issue, as the capability of addressing algorithmic complexity is advantageous compare to researchers from other spatial related disciplines.

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