Inhaltspezifische Aktionen

International WE-Heraeus-Workshop (217. Seminar) on Facets of Universality in Complex Systems: Climate, Biodynamics and Stock Markets

organized by Armin Bunde (Giessen) and Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber (Potsdam) Schloß Rauischholzhausen, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany June 7 - 10, 1999 financed by Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation

Preface of the Proceedings published by SPRINGER, 2002: The science of Disasters, A. Bunde, J. Kropp and H.J. Schellnhuber



With this work authors, editors, and the publisher offer a very stimulating and modern book to a broad audience. It is stimulating and modern for several reasons. First it contributes to the culture of monographs as it has developed today. Second, it dwells on interdisciplinary cooperation. Third, it reflects recent progress in nonlinear dynamics of complex systems, one of the most modern fields in science. Fourth, it immediately captures the reader's attention: when she / he starts to turn over the leaves, the reader will be momentarily attracted by the rich variety of topical issues and fields of problems, will feel stimulated by the most inspiring introductory presentations as well as by the many details of the exciting problems, which he finds in 14 chapters. He will be seized by all the ideas, results, methods - and cannot easily stop reading.

We scientists are realizing more and more that we have to put more emphasis on monographs. Their part is a summarizing overview on original work, a unifying presentation of a larger field, is eliminating the sometimes meandering trails of research, short-cutting its unnecessary detours. It is to open up new asociations and to provide a convenient learning for the newcomer. To share the enormous effort of writing a monograph, authors or teams of authors today each write a single, coherent chapter. Together all chapters add up to an even richer presentation. This volume is another successful example of this type of modern monographs.

There is common agreement that the frontiers of research are particularly exciting if interdisciplinary problems are addressed. Many interesting questions need the knowledge of experts from various different fields to find a satisfactory answer. Interdisciplinary work many and often does even start a new discipline. But it always starts by proper combination of existing excellence in the fields that contribute. Also, the different views of different specialists on the same subject lead to new insight, new conceptions, which no single discipline would have developed from its own. The present work exemplifies all this very clearly. Physicists, meteorologists, biologists, economists, etc. describe their answer in four main parts of the volume: Basic methods and notions, features of climate predictablility, biodynamics, and econophysics. Inter- or better multidisciplinarity in its purest!

Science has developed recently an impressive set of charateristic notions and approaches to deal with complex systems. These all live under the headline of nonlinear dynamics and/or deterministic chaos. Nonlinearity here is not just a deformation of a basically linear behavior, characterized by the conceptions of superposition and mode dynamics, with some quantitative effects. It lends, in contrast, qualitatively new and specific signatures to the phenomena observed and to their understanding by theoretical models. Concepts as scaling, fractality (mono- or multi-), geometrical symmetry, etc., are features of strong nonlinearity, of a new quality. In this 'additive monograph' very different but most fascinating questions are explored with the nonlinear, complex systems' approaches and their methods: climate, physiology and heart phenomena, sensory biology, behavioral science, financial markets. And they can be explored by the same methods because of the universality, which we have found in nonlinear dynamics. Universality is one of the big surprises and lies at the very heart of nonlinear complexity. Successful methods are time series analysis, wavelet expansion, entropy, complexity measures, etc. These allow to derive statistical description for unpredicatable macroscopic phenomena like the weather or the climate, to sharpen the idea of prediction itself, prediction despite of chaos and sensitive dependence on the starting conditions. The give rise to a nonequilibrium thermodynamics despite of the lack of time scaleseparation as we know it from micro versus macro systems. Universality seems to enable us to treat clouds, DNA sequences, or stock markets with the same apparatus of methods. Detrending analysis opens the possibilty to separate general trends from the sometimes huge fluctuations in the time development. The extremely successful conception of linear response to external forcing can be transferred from condensed matter physics to nonlinear complex systems, etc., etc. A most inspiring, beautiful ballpark of nonlinear science methods together with applications in several fields to urgent interest, which use it, is offered in this volume. The reader will also notice surprising feedback from the various applications to the development of the basic concepts. This finishes my rush through the arguments, why this is a stimulating and modern book and what the reader is about to learn from it. I am sure that it will find a large audience, that will induce more, new mulitdisciplinary cooperation, will be a stimulating introduction for newcomers and also be a handbook for the expert researchers.


Marburg, May 2002 Siegfried Grossmann