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Complexity: A Guided Tour


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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments 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 Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

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 holistic attributes can arise from teems of underwhelming components -- how minds arise from simple neurons and cagey ant colonies from embarrassingly thick-headed individual ants. If Mitchell's book were required reading for undergraduate freshmen, I would anticipate a large surge in the number of students interested not only in complexity, but interested in science more generally. And not just more students, but students more exercised about what may lie ahead as they attempt to come to grips with nature."--Quarterly Review of Biology "The best popular science books are those that give the reader the sense of looking over the shoulder of a leading researcher doing cutting-edge work at the frontier of scientific inquiry. Isaacson's recent biography of Einstein belongs in this category. So too does Melanie Mitchell's Complexity: A Guided Tour."--The Oregonian "How can something be dependent and autonomous at the same time? And why do so many systems in nature show this hierarchical organization? No on has answered these questions, but in Complexity, computer scientist, Melanie Mitchell...offers a valuable snapshot of the growing field of complex-systems science from which the answers may eventually arise."--Nature "The book succeeds in buckling down much of the field's ambiguity, along with its role in the scientific community. And refreshingly, while laying out the surprisingly diverse set of fundamental theories that compose the framework for studying complex systems, Mitchell never oversteps the achievements of what her field has actually produced."--Bookslut Listed in "Nature: Physics," Volume 5, May 2009 "This volume is an engaging and lucid introduction to complex systems...Mitchell is able to succinctly describe core ideas and discoveries...Useful to advanced students and researchers in adjacent areas."--CHOICE "An enthusiastic, sincere, and knowledgeable guide."--Science "Melanie Mitchell's Complexity is essential reading. It's a book whose capacity to inspire delight in your own intelligence makes Mitchell's work akin to instructions for a Sol Lewitt drawing. With attentive reading, you'll soon produce a competent understanding of "sensitive dependence on initial conditions," leap millenia of physics, and turn a sharp corner with history." --The Magazine of Yoga

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