Diversity and Complexity

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This book provides an introduction to the role of diversity in complex adaptive systems. A complex system--such as an economy or a tropical ecosystem--consists of interacting adaptive entities that produce dynamic patterns and structures. Diversity plays a different role in a complex system than it does in an equilibrium system, where it often merely produces variation around the mean for performance measures. In complex adaptive systems, diversity makes fundamental contributions to system performance.

Scott Page gives a concise primer on how diversity happens, how it is maintained, and how it affects complex systems. He explains how diversity underpins system level robustness, allowing for multiple responses to external shocks and internal adaptations; how it provides the seeds for large events by creating outliers that fuel tipping points; and how it drives novelty and innovation. Page looks at the different kinds of diversity--variations within and across types, and distinct community compositions and interaction structures--and covers the evolution of diversity within complex systems and the factors that determine the amount of maintained diversity within a system.

  • Provides a concise and accessible introduction
  • Shows how diversity underpins robustness and fuels tipping points
  • Covers all types of diversity
  • The essential primer on diversity in complex adaptive systems
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What People Are Saying

Page engagingly seduces readers into rather deep ideas in complex systems, including sophisticated mathematical formulas, by using a relaxed style with lots of examples. Yet the treatment is rigorous.
Simon A. Levin, Princeton University
Rajiv Sethi
One of the book's many strengths is that it draws upon insights from seemingly disconnected areas of research and shows how they can be viewed within a common framework. Page's style is lively and conversational, making challenging subject matter quite readable, but without any sacrifice of rigor. He manages to convey both the excitement and difficulty of analyzing complex systems and the role of diversity within them.
Rajiv Sethi, Barnard College, Columbia University
Elinor Ostrom
Scott Page effectively illustrates the multiplicity of results from diverse aspects of complex systems. While all too many social scientists have tried to focus on making analysis simple, Page points out that this overlooks the great variety of relevant material in our social worlds. I am looking forward to having my students read it in my graduate seminar and encourage others to do so as well.
Elinor Ostrom, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics
Duncan J. Watts
At once clear and precise, Page not only makes a persuasive case for the advantages of diversity in biological, ecological, and social systems alike, but also provides the reader with the analytical tools necessary to engage real-world debates in a rational, even quantitative manner. The result is a valuable primer on a difficult and important subject.
Duncan J. Watts, author of "Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks between Order and Randomness"
Scott Page has performed a remarkable work of synthesis. The concepts of diversity and its implications for performance and growth are common to many fields, especially biology and economics. Page has drawn these illustrations together and shown the common elements and how each field illuminates others.
Kenneth J. Arrow, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691137674
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/23/2010
  • Series: Primers in Complex Systems Series
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 591,193
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott E. Page is the Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics at the University of Michigan and an external faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute. He is the author of" The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prelude: The Meaning of Diversity 1

1 On Diversity and Complexity 16

2 Measuring Diversity 54

3 The Creation and Evolution of Diversity 79

4 Constraints on Diversity 127

5 Variation in Complex Systems 148

6 Diversity's Inescapable Benefits I: Averaging 167

7 Diversity's Inescapable Benefits II: Diminishing Returns to Types 183

8 Diversity's Impact in Complex Systems 196

9 Parting Thoughts 249

Bibliography 257

Notes 271

Index 281

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Extremely thought provoking

    Nice presentation of the basics of research on complex adaptive systems and emergent properties, along with some new (to me) observations on the role of diversity in such systems. Not too technical to be inaccessible for those who are new to this, but still meaty enough for those with some familiarity with the subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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