Special Viewpoint

Complexity in Natural Landform Patterns

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Science  02 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5411, pp. 102-104
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5411.102

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Patterns in nature, such as meandering rivers and sand dunes, display complex behavior seemingly at odds with their simplicity of form. Existing approaches to modeling natural landform patterns, reductionism and universality, are incompatible with the nonlinear, open nature of natural systems. An alternative modeling methodology based on the tendency of natural systems to self-organize in temporal hierarchies is described.

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