Non-linear presentation of a complex system

The presentation of linear links:

In the case of a linear presentation, links start from a notion to other notions, from which depart links to other, etc. In this way branches are created. Between the elements of two different branches, there are no links, and above all, there are no links that return to the previous elements in a branch. Crosses and circles are therefore not possible.

A mind map always presents linear links

Mind maps are the typical software for linear presentation of links.

This type of presentation is absolutely realistic in a linear chain of reasoning or activities. But if we are in a complex system such as social networks or interrelationships in economics, this presentation is no longer appropriate.

The presentation of non-linear links

Let’s consider a simplified example of non-linear links in economics and compare the two types of presentations.

Linear presentation of non-linear links

We note that the notion “Price” appears 2 times and that the notion “Foreign demand” appears 4 times (1x at the beginning and 3x at the end). If we would continue the reasoning, this multiple presence phenomenon is worsening.

(Go to the interactive diagram of linear presentation)

Reading one of the link strings:


  • a green arrow means that the influence is going in the same direction (If A increases, B also increases)
  • a red arrow means that the influence goes in the opposite direction (If A increases, B decreases)

If foreign demand increases, demand for domestic products increases. And if the demand for domestic products increases, prices increase. Finally, if prices increase, foreign demand decreases. (The reverse reasoning also applies: If foreign demand decreases,…)

Non-linear presentation of non-linear links

In the non-linear presentation, the links can return to a notion before. Crosses and circles will appear.

(Go to the interactive diagram of nonlinear presentation)

In a complex system with many notions and links, the diagram quickly becomes unreadable.

(Go to interactive diagram of economics)

Detail of the diagram of the complex system “economics”

LinkNotions proposes three solutions to the problem of illegibility:

1. Straight lines can be replaced by lines in the corridors.

2. When you place the cursor on a notion (on the upper or lower part of a notion), a tooltip shows a list of links (incoming and outgoing)

3. When you click on a notion (on the upper or on the lower part), the notions that are related to the notion clicked are highlighted in color for the type of link.

In addition, LinkNotions offers the feature “X to Y” that shows all paths that lead from one notion to any other.

Note that we could have a three-dimensional diagram (to avoid the crossings), but it has other disadvantages, like lack of transparency and difficulty of access to nodes (notions) and edges (links).

The LinkNotions solution to represent the non-linearity in two dimensions has many benefits.

Create a LinkNotions diagram for your non-linear field of knowledge

CREATE your own interactive diagrams from scratch

All you need is a LinkNotions account. Enter your account and click “Create workspace.”

Here’s how to create and edit a new diagram.

Here are the different diagrams (as examples) created by LinkNotions.


Calculate with LinkNotions: calculate the value of a notion with values of other notions.
The concept map becomes a visual spreadsheet!

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