At the tail end of last year I signed up for six MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) at various institutions and today I enrolled and started the first one – Introduction to Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute.
I hadn’t appreciated how cutting edge the Institute is when I signed up – I just thought the course sounded interesting and that it might stretch my blonde brain cells to their limit.
Over the next 11 weeks I’ll be learning about the tools used by scientists to understand complex systems. It’ll cover dynamics, chaos, fractals, information theory, self-organization, agent-based modelling, and networks. By the end of it I should understand how these fit together and how complexity arises and evolves in nature, society, and technology.
Apparently I don’t need a science or maths background – all I need is an interest in the field and be up for a hands-on approach.
I’ve done the first few lectures and installed Netlogo on the PC at home. This is a programmable modelling environment and is what much of the homework will involve.
I’ll let you know how I get on as the course progresses but I had to admit defeat with MiniMe’s algebra homework and phone my Dad for help so I hope complexity doesn’t get any more complex that first year maths 😉
Today I learned:
- complex systems have simple components
- the interaction among components is non-linear
- complex systems have no central control – they are de-centralised with self-organisation
- complex systems have emergent behaviours
- quite a lot, really
Mum’s shepherd’s pie
This is really cottage pie as no shepherd’s were harmed in the making of it but we always called it shepherd’s pie when I was growing up and it’s stuck.
oil for frying
1 onion sliced
1 carrot, diced
500mls gravy (I cheat with granules)
a dollop of brown sauce (got to be HP)
approx. 6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
a knob of butter
a dash of milk or cream
1 tin of beans
Method: Heat the oil and fry the onion and carrot. Add the mince and brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the gravy till the mince is just covered, brown sauce and season. Let the pan simmer uncovered while the potatoes cook. Add more gravy if it gets too dry.
Boil the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes until soft. Drain and leave on a low heat for a minute with the lid on to get rid of any moisture. Mash with the knob of butter and the milk.
Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6
Put the beans in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add the mince on top then the potatoes on top of that. You can either smooth them off with a knife or fluff with a fork. Add some dots of butter to the top and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden.