Complexity, Agents, Volatility, Evidence and Scale



This glossary contains definitions of terms, which are in some way or other related to the CAVES project.

Activity model
  1. The database representation of an experiment or part of an experiment.
  2. A part of a component realisation that describes using UML activity diagrams the algorithms by which the operations of a component are realised.
Adaptive management
A method of management specifically aimed at complex and unpredictable systems. Management actions and processes are adjusted in the light of new information about the system. The system is continually monitored to obtain that information, and management actions themselves may be designed such that even if they fail to deliver their intended outcome, further useful information about the behaviour of the system will be acquired.
Someone / something representing an actor.
Burial society
Case-based reasoning
Solving new problems by analogy with previous experience.
Case study
In observational study, involving a detailed or intensive examination of a particular case which may be unusual or interesting in some way. What constitutes a case depends on the nature of the inquiry. Although the purpose of conducting a case study is to learn something, the findings cannot necessarily be generalised to other cases.
Causal loop diagram
A diagram used to show systems of cause and effect. These are often used to understand organizations and businesses.
CBO - Community Based Organisation
These are organisations based in and working in one or more local communities (neighbourhoods or districts); they are normally private, charitable (non-profit) organisations which are run by and for the local community. Typically, they were created in response to some particular local need or situation - often related to the local environment - and they usually support a variety of specific local improvement actions (for instance, environmental upgrading, youth education, employment promotion, etc.) which are generally undertaken by or with the local people. CBOs are usually important stakeholders and should be represented on Working Groups for issues of relevance to them as well as being active participants in other activities of the participatory decision-making process. (Source: UN-HABITAT)
Climate change
A significant, gradual change from one climatic condition to another, which may or may not be attributable directly or indirectly to human activity.
Cluster analysis
A statistical technique for discovering classifications in which subjects are grouped into clusters in such a way that all members of one cluster are as similar as possible to each other and as different as possible to members of other clusters.
Coarse grain
see Granularity
Cognitive map
  1. An interpretive framework of the world which, it is argued, exists in the human mind and affects actions and decisions as well as knowledge structures.
  2. A sketch that presents a causal picture of the association of components within a complex dynamic system, for the primary purpose of better understanding dependency relationships and general cause/effect.
  3. A mental representation of an environment's spatial layout.
Made up of interconnected parts.
Complex system
  1. A subjective and interpretive term for systems with a large number of interrelated parts.
  2. A system with a large number of elements which interact simultaneously. A chaotic system that is not too disorderly.
  3. A system with the following features: emergence, nonlinear relationships, feedback loops, history, open / difficult to bound, nested.
Made up of intricate parts or aspects that are difficult to understand or analyse.
Compositional modelling
A knowledge-based methodology for system-modelling; the leading approach in the field of automated modelling. In general, a compositional modeller organises knowledge in a structure of composable fragments that relate to particular system components or processes. Its embedded inference mechanism chooses the appropriate fragments with respect to a given problem, instantiates and assembles them into a consistent system model. (Source: Keppens/Shen (2001))
A restrictive condition.
A series of observations, measurements or facts; information.
Decision tree
A tree-like diagram illustrating the choices available to a decision maker, each possible decision and its estimated outcome being shown as a separate branch of the tree.
Domain theory
A comprehensive, consistent and valid model of the application domain of a model.
DPSIR (Driving forces, Pressures, States, Impacts, Responses)
  1. The causal framework for describing the interactions between society and the environment adopted by the European Environment Agency.
  2. An extension of the PSR model developed by OECD.
A mechanical component that exerts a force on another to produce motion.
Driving forces
  1. Major trends or events that shape the future.
  2. Key external pressures that will shape the future for an organization.
Elimination by aspects
A brand choice model that represents the ultimate selection decision as a series of eliminations. Each alternative available for choice is viewed as having some set of aspects (e.g., product features). At each stage of the choice process an aspect is selected (with probability proportional to that aspect's importance for this consumer), and all alternatives still being considered that do not possess the selected aspect are eliminated. The process continues until only one alternative remains, and that remaining item is assumed to be the one chosen by the consumer. (Source: Dictionary of Marketing Terms)
The process of coming into view, as from concealment or obscurity.
Approval or support.
In the context of the European Union, the process of adding further countries to the union. The most recent instance of this at the time of writing was 1 May 2004, when Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia joined.
European Union
The economic and political organization of European states created in 1967 (as the European Community) by the merger of the European Economic Community (aka Common Market) with the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Community.
Ground for belief or disbelief; data on which to base proof or to establish truth or falsehood.
A person who has extensive skill or knowledge in a particular field.
A tract of land, usually with house and buildings, cultivated as a unit or used to rear livestock.
Fine grain
see Granularity
The inundation of land that is normally dry through the overflowing of a body of water, esp. a river.
A principle, theory, etc., with general application.
The aim or object towards which an endeavour is directed.
The exercise of political authority over the actions, affairs, etc., of a political unit, people, etc.; the action of governing; political rule and administration.
Grey market
  1. Trade in newly-issued shares before they have been formally listed and traded on the Stock Exchange.
  2. A practice in which supermarkets buy excess stock of branded goods from other retailers at a low margin and then sell them at discounted prices.
High-fidelity modelling
(No definition found.)
Highly-optimised tolerance
(No definition found.)
The people living together in one house.
The impression made by an idea, social group, etc.
  1. Of, relating to, characteristic of, or meant for a single person or thing.
  2. Separate or distinct, esp. from others of its kind; particular.
  3. Characterized by unusual and striking qualities; distinctive.
Influence diagram
A generalisation of decision trees (aka relevance diagram) constructed as a graphical and mathematical representation of probabilistic inference and decision problems. An influence diagram is a directed acyclic graph with two types of node (decision node and chance node) and two types of arrow (conditioning arrow (ending in a chance node) and informational arrow (ending in a decision node)).
  1. An organization or establishment founded for a specific purpose.
  2. An established custom, law, or relationship in a society or community.
The process of making or being made into a whole; incorporation or being incorporated.
A mutual or reciprocal action.
Knowledge elicitation
The process of obtaining knowledge from a human. This can involve the use of interviews, observation, protocol analysis.
Knowledge elicitation bottleneck
(No definition found.)
Land reform
The redistributing of large agricultural holdings among the landless.
Land use
A land use is the activity land is used for.
An extensive area of land regarded as being visually distinct.
A property of a probability distribution that gives a higher peak, a thinner midrange, and fatter tails than a normal distribution.
A connecting part or episode.
Mental mapping
The process of finding a geographic representation which conveys the cognitive image a person has of an area, including knowledge of features and spatial relationships as well as the individual's perceptions and attitudes regarding the place. A mental map is also known as a cognitive map.
Mental model
A representation of a problem space that is held inside the head of the problem solver. The chosen set of beliefs and methods to interpret a given context.
  1. A representation, usually on a smaller scale, of a device, structure, etc.
  2. A standard to be imitated.
  3. A representative form, style, or pattern.
Multi-layered network
(No definition found.)
A city, town, or district enjoying local self-government.
An account or story, as of events, experiences, etc.
National park
An area of countryside for public use designated by a national government as being of notable scenic, environmental, or historical importance.
An interconnected group or system.
NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
An organisation that is not part of a government. Although the definition can technically include for-profit corporations, the term is generally restricted to non-profit groups or associations organized to realise particular social objectives or serve particular constituencies.
One of the objects of which a graph or a tree consists.
A standard of achievement or behaviour that is required, desired, or designated as normal.
Detailed examination of phenomena prior to analysis, diagnosis, or interpretation.
  1. The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.
  2. The set of entities presupposed by a theory.
A business or administrative concern united and constructed for a particular end.
Taking part in, being or becoming actively involved in, or sharing in.
A detailed scheme, method, etc., for attaining an objective.
A plan of action adopted or pursued by an individual, government, party, business, etc.
Power law
A relationship between two variables such that one is proportional to a power of the other.
  1. A moral force that compels.
  2. Urgent claims or demands.
  3. A burdensome condition that is hard to bear.
Involving or relating to distinctions based on quality or qualities.
Involving or relating to considerations of amount or size.
Random walk
A simple stochastic process. In mathematics and physics, a random walk is a formalization of the intuitive idea of taking successive steps, each in a random direction.
The state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be.
The property of an object that it is capable of regaining its original shape after bending, stretching, or other deformation, etc.
The act of responding; reply or reaction.
Rich picture
(No definition found.)
Strong in constitution.
Rural Commune
The ratio between the size of something real and that of a representation of it.
Scale-free Network
A predicted sequence of events.
(No definition found.)
  1. Easy to understand or do.
  2. Plain; unadorned.
  3. Not combined or complex.
Small-World Network
SOC (Self-Organized Criticality)
The ability of a system to read edge-of-chaos by self-organization.
Social network
A map of the relationships between individuals, indicating the ways in which they are connected through various social familiarities ranging from casual acquaintance to close familial bonds.
Socio-Environmental System
(No definition found.)
Soft systems methodology
Spatial resolution
  1. Number of pixels horizontally and vertically in a digital image.
  2. The size of the smallest unit that can be identified by a remote sensing observation.
  3. The clarity of a single image or the measure of detail in an image.
  4. The ability to form separable images of close objects.
  1. A person or group owning a significant percentage of a company's shares.
  2. A person or group not owning shares in an enterprise but heavily affected by or having an interest in its operations, such as the employees, customers, local community, etc.
  1. The condition of a person, thing, etc., with regard to main attributes.
  2. The structure or form of something.
  3. Any mode of existence.
Statistical mechanics
The study of the properties of physical systems as predicted by the statistical behaviour of their constituent particles.
Statistical signature
(No definition found.)
An informal savings club in South Africa. Members of a stokvel pay a mutually agreed sum into the club every month. The cumulative savings of the group are then rotated to each member of the group on a regular basis. After everyone has had their turn in receiving the contributions, the group may disband or start another cycle.
  1. A particular long-term plan for success, esp. in politics, business, etc.
  2. A plan or stratagem.
Structural learning
(No definition found.)
A coherent division in the architecture of a model, which operates upon a single area of the model's problem domain.
  1. A group or combination of interrelated, interdependent, or interacting elements forming a collective entity; a methodical or coordinated assemblage of parts, facts, etc.
  2. Any scheme of classification or arrangement.
  3. A method or complex of methods.
  4. An organism considered as a functioning entity.
  5. A point of view or doctrine used to interpret a branch of knowledge.
Tacit knowledge
Knowledge that people carry in their minds (their experience), which can be difficult to access as they may not be consciously aware of it or how it can be valuable to others.
  1. The process of making (esp. a predominantly rural area or country) more industrialized and urban.
  2. The process of causing the migration of an increasing proportion of (rural dwellers) into cities.
Confirmation or corroboration.
Vegetation dynamics
(No definition found.)
  1. The establishment of the correctness of a theory, fact, etc.
  2. Evidence that provides proof of an assertion, theory, etc.
A small group of houses in a country area, larger than a hamlet.
Water regime
The duration and timing of surface water inundation resulting from surface water (overland flow), precipitation, and ground water inflow.
Water stress
  1. A condition in which a community does not have enough water available on a regular basis to meet its basic needs.
  2. A condition in which the annual availability of renewable fresh water to a population is between 1000m3/person and 1667m3/person.
  3. A condition in which annual water supplies drop below 1700m3/person.
  4. The physiological effects of lack of water to the plant.
  5. The condition when plants are unable to absorb enough water to replace that lost by transpiration.
A group of people engaged in study or work on a creative project or subject.

Initiated by Gary Polhill, April 2005
Transferred to wiki by Shah Jamal Alam, August 2006
Edited by Ruth Meyer, October 2006

Page last modified on April 03, 2007, at 01:17 pm