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Selection: Levin:SA [5 articles] 

Publications by author Levin:SA.

Evolution of a modular software network

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 108, No. 50. (13 December 2011), pp. 19985-19989,


“Evolution behaves like a tinkerer” (François Jacob, Science, 1977). Software systems provide a singular opportunity to understand biological processes using concepts from network theory. The Debian GNU/Linux operating system allows us to explore the evolution of a complex network in a unique way. The modular design detected during its growth is based on the reuse of existing code in order to minimize costs during programming. The increase of modularity experienced by the system over time has not counterbalanced the increase in ...


From management to stewardship: viewing forests as complex adaptive systems in an uncertain world

Conservation Letters, Vol. 8, No. 5. (September 2015), pp. 368-377,


The world's forests and forestry sector are facing unprecedented biological, political, social, and climatic challenges. The development of appropriate, novel forest management and restoration approaches that adequately consider uncertainty and adaptability are hampered by a continuing focus on production of a few goods or objectives, strong control of forest structure and composition, and most importantly the absence of a global scientific framework and long-term vision. Ecosystem-based approaches represent a step in the right direction, but are limited in their ability to ...


Eluding catastrophic shifts

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, No. 15. (14 April 2015), pp. E1828-E1836,


[Significance] Catastrophic shifts such as desertification processes, massive extinctions, or stock market collapses are ubiquitous threats in nature and society. In these events, there is a shift from one steady state to a radically different one, from which recovery is exceedingly difficult. Thus, there is a huge interest in predicting and eventually preventing catastrophic shifts. Here we explore the influence of key mechanisms such as demographic fluctuations, heterogeneity, and diffusion, which appear generically in real circumstances. The mechanisms we study could ideally ...


Dealing with femtorisks in international relations

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, No. 49. (09 December 2014), pp. 17356-17362,


The contemporary global community is increasingly interdependent and confronted with systemic risks posed by the actions and interactions of actors existing beneath the level of formal institutions, often operating outside effective governance structures. Frequently, these actors are human agents, such as rogue traders or aggressive financial innovators, terrorists, groups of dissidents, or unauthorized sources of sensitive or secret information about government or private sector activities. In other instances, influential “actors” take the form of climate change, communications technologies, or socioeconomic globalization. ...


Climate policies under wealth inequality

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, No. 6. (11 February 2014), pp. 2212-2216,


[Significance] One of the greatest challenges in addressing global environmental problems such as climate change, which involves public goods and common-pool resources, is achieving cooperation among peoples. There are great disparities in wealth among nations, and this heterogeneity can make agreements much more difficult to achieve (e.g., regarding implementation of climate change mitigation). This paper incorporates wealth inequality into a public goods dilemma, including an asymmetric distribution of wealth representative of existing inequalities among nations. Without homophily (imitation of like agents), ...

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