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Complex Adaptive Systems
A Complex Adaptive System is a group of interdependent rule-following single Agents (people, animals, markets, natural events etc.) with complex interactions which result in system-wide patterns across the group.
Agents make decisions in accordance with these rules, and are ready to modify their actions on the basis of new information that comes their way. Agents in complex systems make their decisions based on what they know, i.e. local, rather than global information.
Computer simulation models called "cellular automata" (e.g., Game of Life) demonstrate how such separate agents can independently follow a simple set of rules of behavior and then collectively generate complex and unpredictable (but "emergent") patterns at a group level.