Mehul Kar

August 30, 2015

Stochastic Self Similarity

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I’ve been reading1 Creativity, Inc and I learned a new concept today: Stochastic Self-Similarity.

Stochastic Self-similarity is a mathematical concept that describes phenomena that look the same at different levels of magnitude. Examples straight out of the book:

  • A coastline looking like a craggy coastline from a hang glider and from outer space.
  • A branch of a tree looking like the tree itself
  • A snowflake looking like a snowflake under a microscope.

The insight of this chapter in the book is that problems in our daily lives exhibit this same phenomenon; that smaller problems have the tendency to resemble bigger problems. But for some reason we deal with them differently. There is an arbitrary threshold. Problems that fall below this threshold are dealt with calmly and with reason. Problems above this threshold cause excitement and fear and panic.

The author of the book posits that, if problems at different levels of magnitude are similar, then the reactions to them should also be similar.

I thought that was interesting.

Footnotes

  1. Ok fine, I’ve been listening to the audiobook.