Chaos theory explains how complex systems evolve . Quite surprisingly, while the number of complex systems might be nearly endless, in their evolution they will be attracted to only four predictable and ordered states, called attractors. The word attractor was chosen because the long- term behavior of the system's many parts seems pulled toward one of four different, predictable states, producing a predictable shape to the eventual system. In the course of a system's evolution, how that system settles into one and not another of the attractors is determined by three qualities:
Energy flow into the system
Degrees of freedom in the system
Flexibility in the structure of the system
The higher the energy flow, the greater the degrees of freedom, and the more flexible the structure will allow the system to evolve toward the great creativity and endless possibilities of the "strange attractor," the most commonly known of the four attractors. [ 5]
[ 5] For more information on attractors, see John Briggs and F. David Peat, Turbulent Mirror (New York: Harper & Row, 1989).