Analogy between Sudoku and the multi-scale integrated analysis of societal metabolism

Mario Giampietro, Sandra G.F. Bukkens

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22 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 Elsevier B.V. This paper illustrates the analogy between Sudoku and the multi-scale integrated analysis of societal and ecosystem metabolism (MuSIASEM). MuSIASEM is a transdisciplinary approach aimed at checking the viability, desirability and feasibility of actual and projected metabolic patterns of society. Building on Georgescu-Roegen's flow-fund model, it defines what the system is in terms of fund elements (human activity, managed land, power capacity), and what it does in terms of flow elements (energy, food, water, monetary flows). The accounting method of MuSIASEM generates a multi-scale, multi-dimensional representation of flow and fund elements that shares essential features with Sudoku, including mutual information and impredicativity between bottom-up and top-down causality. Data organization employed in MuSIASEM reveals the internal and external constraints that operate on the societal metabolic pattern and that determine its viability and feasibility domain. The dynamic equilibrium between the hypercyclic and dissipative macro-compartments of society expresses itself as a regional constraint on the viability of the metabolic pattern. The MuSIASEM approach is illustrated with case studies including the energy metabolism of Spain and the metabolic pattern of Mauritius.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-28
JournalEcological Informatics
Issue numberP1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Integrated assessment
  • Multi-scale analysis
  • Mutual information
  • Societal metabolism
  • Sudoku


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