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Posted February 26, 2005
Perspectives and Extensions of John Holland's Thought
Centered on John Holland¿s thought, this collection of essays radiates outward to touch on a variety of themes relating to complex adaptive systems. The diversity, crossing conventional disciplines, such as logic, economics and genetics, is testament to the equally diverse range of sources that Holland drew upon in his seminar work, ¿Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems: An Introductory Analysis with Applications to Biology, Control, and Artificial Intelligence.¿ The book¿s title ¿Perspectives on Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems¿ is appropriate since the essays do provide various perspectives, from Holland¿s mentors, students, and colleagues, with both strong and not-so-strong connection to his work and the stream of research it has generated. Holland¿s key unifying assertion is that self-organizing information-based systems are best understood as large collections of interacting, self-interested agents that adapt to the environment and each other. The paradigm that set him apart from contemporaries was a willingness to deal with the possibly open-ended complexity of the real world. Unlike paper-and-pencil theoreticians, he made progress by approaching reality from a variety of methods, centered on computer simulated worlds, admittedly simplified portrayals, but still subsuming many fewer constraints than traditional disciplines impose on their domains. Today, with the increased power of computers and the ubiquity of modeling, simulation and other computationally-based studies, this open-ended paradigm is widely practiced, but the discipline of thought that Holland brought to it is not always apparent. This smallish collection of fourteen chapters is about the right size to provide insight into the implications of Holland¿s paradigm, its relation to evolutionary computation, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, natural evolution, and economics. Reasonably priced, the book can be afforded by anyone wanting an entrée into multi-dimensional intellectual world of complex adaptive systems in a depth that goes behind the hype and buzzwords that are often associated with it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.