Complexity: A Guided Tour

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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 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195124415
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 774,567
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Melanie Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.

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Table of Contents

Part I: Background and History
Chapter 1: What is Complexity?
Chapter 2: Dynamics, Chaos, and Prediction
Chapter 3: Information
Chapter 4: Computation
Chapter 5: Evolution
Chapter 6: Genetics, Simplified
Chapter 7: Defining and Measuring Complexity
Part II: Life and Evolution in Computers
Chapter 8: Self-Reproducing Programs
Chapter 9: Genetic Algorithms
Part III: Computation Writ Large
Chapter 10: Cellular Automata, Life, and the Universe
Chapter 11: Computing with Particles
Chapter 12: Information Processing in Living Systems
Chapter 13: How to Make Analogies (If You Are A Computer)
Chapter 14: Prospects of Computer Modeling
Part IV: Network Thinking
Chapter 15: The Science of Networks
Chapter 16: Applying Network Science to Real-World Networks
Chapter 17: The Mystery of Scaling
Chapter 18: Evolution, Complexified
Part V: Conclusion
Chapter 19: The Past and Future of the Sciences of Complexity

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2009

    What a wonderful read!

    I thoroughly enjoyed Melanie Mitchell's comprehensive overview of this developing field. I was particularly impressed by how the author made highly complex content understandable for the average reader. For those who are interested in learning more about the nonlinearlty and the simple rules of self-organizing systems, this book brings together all the bits and pieces of the different notions of complexity in a way that provides clarity and insight. If you're fascinated by the mystery and the power of networks, you'll love this book!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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