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What enables individually simple insects like ants to act with such precision and purpose as a group? How do trillions of neurons produce something as extraordinarily complex as consciousness? In this remarkably clear and companionable book, leading complex systems scientist Melanie Mitchell provides an intimate tour of the sciences of...
What enables individually simple insects like ants to act with such precision and purpose as a group? How do trillions of neurons produce something as extraordinarily complex as consciousness? In this remarkably clear and companionable book, leading complex systems scientist Melanie Mitchell provides an intimate tour of the sciences of complexity, a broad set of efforts that seek to explain how large-scale complex, organized, and adaptive behavior can emerge from simple interactions among myriad individuals. Based on her work at the Santa Fe Institute and drawing on its interdisciplinary strategies, Mitchell brings clarity to the workings of complexity across a broad range of biological, technological, and social phenomena, seeking out the general principles or laws that apply to all of them. Richly illustrated, Complexity: A Guided Tour--winner of the 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science--offers a wide-ranging overview of the ideas underlying complex systems science, the current research at the forefront of this field, and the prospects for its contribution to solving some of the most important scientific questions of our time.
All theoretical models are wrong, but some are useful. Both inevitable error and promising usefulness abound in the bold conceptual models that Mitchell surveys in exploring the nascent science of complexity. Readers will marvel at the sheer range of settings in which complex systems operate: from ant hills to the stock market, from T cells to Web searches, from disease epidemics to power outages, complexity challenges theorists intellectual adroitness. With refreshing clarity, Mitchell invites nonspecialists to share in these researchers adventures in recognizing and measuring complexity and then predicting its cascading effects. Concepts central to thermodynamics, information theory, and computer programming all come into focus in this foray into the recesses of complexity. Still, the analysis illuminates more than explanatory frameworks (such as network diagrams and genetic algorithms); piquant personalities (including Stephen Jay Gould andJohn von Neumann) also receive illuminating scrutiny. Though Mitchell acknowledges the doubts of skeptics, she still expresses hope that persistent complexity researchers will yet weld their disparate accomplishments into a coherent paradigm. Mind-expanding.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)
Melanie Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.
"Melanie Mitchell's book is most enjoyable, truly inspiring, skillfully written, and, above all, beautifully clear. The author's enthusiasm and passion for the field make the book fascinating to read. Her rigor, clarity, and healthy skepticism make the book sound and the field scientifically stronger. It is an excellent and rigorous account of the scientific field of complexity. She proves by example that it is possible to explain complex systems science with rigor, breadth, depth, and--above all--exquisite clarity."--Artificial Life
"Complexity: A Guided Tour is well written and engaging, laced with candid humor and occasional blunt remarks about some of the major characters in the field. It is a fine introduction to complexity science and could serve as a first-rate text for an advanced course for undergraduates and an excellent guide for courses at the graduate level. Experts and nonspecialists alike will have a hard time putting it down."--Physics Today
"A well-written, easy to understand, and entertaining piece of popular science."--Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines
"Perhaps one of this generation's standard introductions to the exciting worlds of the sciences of complexity."--Emergence: Complexity and Organization
"Complexity stands out from other popular science books by mentioning recent discoveries and theories from genetics. Readers may enjoy Mitchell's personal perspective and her inclusion of recent research. Readers who have not been introduced to the ideas explored in Complexity will find the content fascinating."--Mathematical Association of America Reviews
"Mitchell's tour will be a helpful introduction to those in various disciplines who seek a gentle introduction to this emerging specialty."--Computing Reviews
"The author, a denizen of the community of complexity researchers, provides an engaging introduction to the many interdisciplinary issues surrounding attempts at understanding how fantastic hol
Booklist 03/15/2009 pg. 33 (EAN 9780195124415, Hardcover)
Choice 10/01/2009 (EAN 9780195124415, Hardcover)
Wilson Public Library Catalog 01/01/2009 pg. 38 (EAN 9780195124415, Hardcover)
Wilson Public Library Catalog 01/01/2013 pg. 398 (EAN 9780195124415, Hardcover)
Contributor Bio: Mitchell, Melanie
Melanie Mitchell has served on the ministry team of Word of Life Centre in Red Deer, Canada, since 1996. She is a gifted communicator passionate about helping people move forward into their destiny and purpose. Her dynamic teaching ability and inspiring words challenge people to be all they were created to be.