Niwot Ridge Resources

A Source of Information for Mission Critical Software Systems, Management Processes, and Strategies

Post Normal Science (PNS) and Complex Adaptive Systems

The topic of eXtreme Programming (XP) and related Agile methodologies has both interested and troubled me for some time. The loose way in which folks talk about the processes and benefits of XP goes against my nature. At the same time the attractiveness of creative development of software systems has always been my interest. I've discovered that the field of Post–Normal Science addresses many of the issues I've encountered.

Complex Adaptive Systems is a buzz word to encompass many concepts in General Systems Theory. Below are some references to CAS as well. This a far from a exhaustive list and serves only as a "sample" of a complex and evolving field.

A review of John Gall's Systematics

"Normal Science and Post–Normal Inquiry: A Context for Methodology," Dan McCarthy's PhD work at the  University of Waterloo.

Murphy's Law(s)

Outback Software has a nice summary page for CAS.

Principia Cybernetica is a good starting point for PNS resources.

Toward a Post–Normal Science: New Approaches to Research is Beth Dempster's graduate student site.

Post Normal Science and the Environment

Post Normal Science materials presented by Terry Stewart

Post-Normal Science: Environmental Policy under Conditions of Complexity is a survey of PNS. The concepts here can be easily extended to other domains.

Thomas Kuhn has a lot to say about "paradigms" and post-normal as well as normal science. Kuhn is probably the most mis–quoted and mis–understood philosopher of science. The only person more mis–understood is Karl Popper.

Jerry Ravetz has an essay on PNS which contains useful definitions.

"The Science of Design," is a discussion of PNS and design processes.

"The Accidental Rebel: Thomas Kuhn and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,"

Johns Hopkins University Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism, Kuhn, Thomas S.

Kuhn  is discussed, along with criticisms of his work in Ramblings of Philosphe

Emergence, Chaos, and Non–Linear Science

Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations coined the term "the invisible hand" to describe the seemingly orchestrated order that emerges from the actions of individuals looking for things they need in a free marketplace. Smith's analysis, by the way, is both detailed and profound--a must for anyone interested in the topic of emergence.

Emergence: the Connected Lives  of Ant, Brains, Cities, and Software, Steven Johnson, Scribner, 2001.

Los Alamos National Laboratories Pre-Print Site's Nonlinear Sciences has papers on chaos, emergence and other non-linear topics since 1993. Here are some pre–defined searches of this archive

Papers with "emergence" or "emergent" in the title

Papers with "chaos" in the title

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