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Systems Science Seminar: Joshua Hughes "Is the panarchy adaptive cycle a special case of the cusp catastrophe?"
Friday, May 15, 2009 - 12:00pm to Friday, May 15, 2009 - 1:00pm

May 15, 2009

Harder House, Room 104

12-1 pm

Joshua Hughes

Is the panarchy adaptive cycle a special case of the cusp catastrophe?

Comparison of the panarchy adaptive cycle, a general model for human and natural systems, with the cusp catastrophe of catastrophe theory suggests that the adaptive cycle can be considered a special case of the cusp catastrophe. Both the adaptive cycle and the cusp catastrophe have been used to model various ecological, economic, and social systems in which slow, small, continuous changes in one or two control variables produce a fast, large, discontinuous change in system behavior. Use of the panarchy adaptive cycle, the more recent of the two, has so far been limited to that of metaphor, but the adaptive cycle still provides rich explanatory power and philosophical insight for many living systems. The cusp catastrophe, while often used as a metaphor, has been derived from topology and so is capable of being used much more rigorously. By using the constrained control variables from the adaptive cycle as parameters in the behavior equation for the cusp catastrophe, a cycle very similar to the adaptive cycle is constructed. Where the constructed cycle differs from the adaptive cycle is where the adaptive cycle is least well-defined, and several ways for eliminating this discrepancy are discussed. Considering the panarchy adaptive cycle to be a special case of the cusp catastrophe may provide direction for more rigorous and more general applications of the adaptive cycle, thereby extending its usefulness in guiding sustainability efforts, the primary purpose for which it was created.

Joshua Hughes is a first year, core-option PhD student in the PSU Systems Science Graduate Program.  He is interested in information theory, cybernetics, reconstructability analysis, neural networks, fuzzy logic, catastrophe theory, game theory, and many other things.

<Web-based remote access seminar>
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