Innovation is something that has caught the fancy of businesses for some time, so of course anything that goes beyond the ‘common wisdom’ (which is typically neither) and the confusion with disruption is worth taking note of.
Such is the case with the paper, “Dynamics on expanding spaces: modeling the emergence of novelties“, by Vittorio Loreto, Vito D. P. Servedio, Steven H. Strogatz and Francesca Tria.
Mathematics required for understanding the paper: If you don’t know much about Heaps Law or Zipf’s Law, you might want to read up on the underlying concepts.
The short of it is that there is now a mathematical model for innovation that has been used to predict how innovations appear in the real world, such as the emergence of tags in social annotation systems and how we discover new songs in online music catalogues.
Of course, the model doesn’t show people how to innovate, and there’s a lot to be learned by the masses when it comes to making innovation more possible – but we at least have a strong start at predicting when it will happen.