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AIGameDev Column: Taming Chaos Theory

It’s time again for my weekly Discussion series column at AIGameDev.com.

This time, I touch on the concept of Chaos Theory and how the AI buzzword of emergent behavior is actually cut from the same cloth. They are both entirely deterministic in that they are composed of a finite set of distinct rules – and yet their strength (and weakness) is in that they look complex… even to the point of looking random at times.

But is this good or bad? To pull a brief quote from the column:

So our agent-based models are really an implementation of Chaos Theory. That is, they are both complex systems that result entirely deterministically from relatively simple models. However, as Jurassic Park so elegantly portrayed for us, even deterministic models can spin wildly out of control. There are plenty of examples of very simple systems whose results can vary widely – almost looking “broken” simply because of the interaction of those simple rules.

And that is the rub. That is the beast that waits below the surface to reach up and wrap it’s combinatorial tentacles around our placid simulation and drag it down into the abyss of scathing reviews. And we never know if and when it will strike. Perhaps the name “Chaos Theory”, although not an appropriate term for describing the system itself, was an appropriate one after all for describing the potential results of that system.

Read the whole column over at AIGameDev.com. And please, these are discussion columns. If you have a comment, by all means leave it!

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