(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Synergetics is a theory of pattern formation in complex systems. It tries
to explain structures that develop spontaneously in nature.
Since order emerges out of chaos, and chaos is not well defined, synergetics employs probabilities (to describe uncertainty) and information (to describe approximation). Entropy becomes a central concept, relating physics to information theory.
Synergetics revolves around the concepts of: compression of the degrees of freedom of a complex system into dynamic patterns that can be expressed as a collective variable; behavioral attractors of changing stabilities; and the appearance of new forms as nonequilibrium phase transitions.
Systems at instability points are driven by a slaving principle: long-lasting quantities can enslave short-lasting quantities (i.e., they can act as order parameters). Close to instability, stable motions (or "modes") are enslaved by unstable modes and can be ignored, thereby reducing the degrees of freedom of the system. The macroscopic behavior of the system is determined by the unstable modes. The dynamic equations of the system reflect the interplay between stochastic forces ("chance") and deterministic forces ("necessity").
Synergetics deals with self-organization, how collections of parts can produce structures. Synergetics therefore applies to systems driven far from equilibrium, where the classic concepts of thermodynamics are no longer adequate. Order can arise from chaos and can be maintained by flows of energy/matter.
Applictions to Physics, Chemistry, Sociology and Biology (population dynamics, evolution, morphogenesis) are discussed. Completely different systems exhibit surprising analogies as they pass through an instability.
Biological systems are unique in that they exhibit and interplay between structure and function. Function is embodied in structure, function is latent in form.
Synergetics belongs to the class of mathematical disciplines (including Von Bertalanffi's general systems theory and Prigogine's nonequilibrium thermodynamics) that are trying to extend science to dynamic systems.
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