Instability and Information

TitleInstability and Information
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsPatzelt, F
Academic DepartmentInstitute for Theoretical Physics, Dept. of Neuropysics
DegreeDr. rer. nat.
UniversityUniversity of Bremen
Thesis TypePhD
Other NumbersarXiv:1511.03732

Many complex systems exhibit extreme events far more often than expected for a normal distribution. This work examines how self-similar bursts of activity across several orders of magnitude can emerge from first principles in systems that adapt to information. Surprising connections are found between two apparently unrelated research topics: hand-eye coordination in balancing tasks and speculative trading in financial markets. Seemingly paradoxically, locally minimising fluctuations can increase a dynamical system's sensitivity to unpredictable perturbations and thereby facilitate global catastrophes. This general principle is studied in several domain-specific models and in behavioural experiments. It explains many findings in both fields and resolves an apparent antinomy: the coexistence of stabilising control or market efficiency and perpetual instabilities resembling critical phenomena in physical systems.