> The concept is that of "emergent properties". That is, the whole is
> greater than the sum of the parts.
>> A good example is a negative feedback regulatory system -- the classic
> example is the heating/air conditioninig system in your house. It
> keeps the temperature inside quite constant regardless of how hot or
> how cold it gets outside. The combined action of the system --
> thermostat with temperature sensor, set point, and error calculator,
> plus the machinery of the furnace and the air conditioner, results in
> maintaining a constant temperature -- regulation. This is something
> that no component alone can do.
Ah. This, at least, I understand.
>> The system is actually greater than the sum of the parts. It is the
> sum of the parts combined with the specific way they interact with
> each other. Changing the pattern of interaction without changing any
> of the parts can convert the negative feedback to positive, resulting
> in catastrophically hot or cold conditions.
>> In mathematics, a set of coupled or linked equations has a behavior
> that is determined by its "characteristic values" or "eigenvalues".
> These are properties of the ensemble of equations, not of any one
> specific equation. Again, the behavior of the system can be very
> different from the behavior of all of the separate pieces.
OK. I think I grasp the basics of this, kind of.