Ian Malcolm is an acknowledged mathematical genius. Well-respected by his fellow mathematicians, Malcolm is often called upon to lecture to learned groups about his various mathematical theories. Malcolm's favorite theory is complexity theory, formerly known as chaos theory. Loyal Crichton readers will remember Malcolm from the novel Jurassic Park, in which he explains the concept of chaos theory as it applies to dinosaurs. In The Lost World, Malcolm takes this theory to a new level as he applies advanced complexity/chaos theory to the situation on Isla Sorna. Malcolm believes that too much change or too much stagnation causes any complex system to fall into a destructive state of chaos. The events on Isla Sorna, which involve excessive change of the natural biosystem, bear out his theory as the expedition and the dinosaur population both descend into chaos.
Malcolm's greatest flaws are his negativity and his need to be right. Due to Malcolm's previous experience with InGen's genetically engineered dinosaurs, he has knowledge that could prevent the deadly chaos on Isla Sorna. Rather than share that knowledge with Levine in the first place, Malcolm is content to go along for the ride and watch passively as the destruction he has predicted plays out in real life. Although it is never explained why Malcolm and Sarah Harding broke off their romantic relationship, Malcolm's passivity and negative attitude in the face of danger clash decidedly with Harding's can-do attitude. Malcolm may be a brilliant theorist, but in the arena of real life, he would not survive five minutes without someone like Harding to save him from himself.