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February 2005 - Complexity Theory: Visualizing the Unsolvable

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse
out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
the child is grown, the dream is gone… – Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb

Much of art is an attempt to express fleeting realities that one can sense, but never really see. Thus artists often are the visualizers and the form-givers to the almost-visible, and the creative process a constant foray into the indefinable. But is this role limited to the artists? Isn’t this is true for almost any creative process? The predominantly “left-brain” scientific/analytic explorations also push the boundaries, and define realities beyond our normal understanding.

The sense of wonder that pulls one into these journeys, and the joy of discovery on reaching unexplored realms, are at the core common to both these seemingly opposite routes. And at times the two streams come together in ideas/concepts that appear to straddle the difference between art and science, intuition and reason. A part of that theoretical realm will be the focus of this month’s session where Brent Barton, senior bond analyst with Wachovia, will be leading a presentation & discussion titled

“Complexity Theory: Visualizing the Unsolvable.”

To quote Brent: “Between the boundaries of chaos and randomness is the area where many of the complex systems that surround us (our world economy, nature, human evolution) can be observed in a constant cycle of birth and evolution. Although still barely understood, the laws that govern these systems can now be observed through computer graphics and modeling.”


  1. Let’s see how it influenced your group name?
    By Phyllis M. Roberts