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The Computational Beauty of Nature: Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos, Complex Systems, and Adaptation

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Overview

"Simulation," writes Gary Flake in his preface, "becomes a form of experimentation in a universe of theories. The primary purpose of this book is to celebrate this fact."In this book, Gary William Flake develops in depth the simple idea that recurrent rules can produce rich and complicated behaviors. Distinguishing "agents" (e.g., molecules, cells, animals, and species) from their interactions (e.g., chemical reactions, immune system responses, sexual reproduction, and evolution), Flake argues that it is the computational properties of interactions that account for much of what we think of as "beautiful" and "interesting." From this basic thesis, Flake explores what he considers to be today's four most interesting computational topics: fractals, chaos, complex systems, and adaptation.

Each of the book's parts can be read independently,enabling even the casual reader to understand and work with the basic equations and programs. Yet the parts are bound together by the theme of the computer as a laboratory and a metaphor for understanding the universe. The inspired reader will experiment further with the ideas presented to create fractal landscapes, chaotic systems, artificial life forms, genetic algorithms, and artificial neural networks.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"This book is a delight." Barak Pearlmutter , University of NewMexico

"This delightful book illustrates beautifully the paradigm shift inphysics from writing equations and solving them to computer modelingand experimentation." Greg Chaitin, author of The Limits of Mathematics

Barak Pearlmutter
This book is a delight.
Greg Chaitin
This delightful book illustrates beautifully the paradigm shift in physics from writing equations and solving them to computer modeling and experimentation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262561273
  • Publisher: Semiotexte/Smart Art
  • Publication date: 1/31/2000
  • Series: Bradford Books Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 520
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
1 Introduction 1
I Computation 9
2 Number Systems and Infinity 11
3 Computability and Incomputability 23
4 Postscript: Computation 51
II Fractals 59
5 Self-Similarity and Fractal Geometry 61
6 L-Systems and Fractal Growth 77
7 Affine Transformation Fractals 93
8 The Mandelbrot Set and Julia Sets 111
9 Postscript: Fractals 129
III Chaos 137
10 Nonlinear Dynamics in Simple Maps 139
11 Strange Attractors 159
12 Producer-Consumer Dynamics 181
13 Controlling Chaos 203
14 Postscript: Chaos 221
IV Complex Systems 229
15 Cellular Automata 231
16 Autonomous Agents and Self-Organization 261
17 Competition and Cooperation 281
18 Natural and Analog Computation 307
19 Postscript: Complex Systems 327
V Adaptation 337
20 Genetics and Evolution 339
21 Classifier Systems 361
22 Neural Networks and Learning 383
23 Postscript: Adaptation 415
Epilogue 425
24 Duality and Dichotomy 427
Source Code Notes 435
Glossary 443
Bibliography 469
Index 483
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