Complex systems is a scientific field, which studies the common properties of systems considered complex in nature, society and science. It is also called complex systems theory, complexity science, study of complex systems and/or sciences of complexity. The key problems of such systems are difficulties with their formal modeling and simulation. From such perspective, in different research contexts complex systems are defined on the base of their different attributes.
The study of complex systems is bringing new vitality to many areas of science where a more typical reductionist strategy has fallen short. Complex systems is therefore often used as a broad term encompassing a research approach to problems in many diverse disciplines including neurosciences, social sciences, meteorology, chemistry, physics, computer science, psychology, artificial life, evolutionary computation, economics, earthquake prediction, molecular biology and inquiries into the nature of living cells themselves.
The study of mathematical complex system models is used for many scientific questions poorly suited to the traditional mechanistic conception provided by science. Complex systems is therefore often used as a broad term encompassing a research approach to problems in many diverse disciplines including anthropology, artificial intelligence, artificial life, chemistry, computer science, economics, evolutionary computation, earthquake prediction, meteorology, molecular biology, neuroscience, physics, psychology and sociolog .
In these endeavors, scientists often seek simple non-linear coupling rules which lead to complex phenomena (rather than describe; see above), but this need not be the case. Human societies (and probably human brains) are complex systems in which neither the components nor the couplings are simple. Nevertheless, they exhibit many of the hallmarks of complex systems. It is worth remarking that non-linearity is not a necessary feature of complex systems modeling: macro-analyses that concern unstable equilibrium and evolution processes of certain biological/social/economic systems can usefully be carried out also by sets of linear equations, which do nevertheless entail reciprocal dependence between variable parameters.
Traditionally, engineering has striven to solve the non-linear system problem while bearing in mind that for small perturbations, most non-linear systems can be approximated with linear systems significantly simplifying the analysis. Linear systems represent the main class of systems for which general techniques for stability control and analysis exist. However, many physical systems (for example lasers) are inherently "complex systems" in terms of the definition above, and engineering practice must now include elements of complex systems research.
Information theory applies well to the complex adaptive systems, CAS, through the concepts of object oriented design, as well as through formalized concepts of organization and disorder that can be associated with any systems evolution process.