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Proving Darwin: Making Biology Mathematical

2.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  88 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Groundbreaking mathematician Gregory Chaitin gives us the first book to posit that we can prove how Darwin’s theory of evolution works on a mathematical level.

For years it has been received wisdom among most scientists that, just as Darwin claimed, all of the Earth’s life-forms evolved by blind chance. But does Darwin’s theory function on a purely mathematical level? Has t
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2012)
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Dec 13, 2012 Brandon rated it it was ok
(Taken from my review of this on Amazon and modified)

I bought this book because I thought it would be interesting to see a mathematical model of evolution. In DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA: EVOLUTION AND THE MEANINGS OF LIFE , Daniel Dennett proposed that evolution was an algorithmic process. I believe that he is correct, so when I saw a book claiming that evolution could be modeled and proven to be inevitable by mathematics, I was excited.

However, this book is not written by someone knowledgable of e
Dec 21, 2015 DrosoPHila rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No-one
Recommended to DrosoPHila by: No-one
A quick glance at the references are enough to pick up big problems with this work. A well-referenced book might lie anywhere on the awful-amazing spectrum, but a badly-referenced book is inevitably awful because it reveals that the author simply hasn't thought through his thesis.

Anyone needs to do sufficient background reading before claiming to be knowledgeable - but especially when it is outside your field of training (in the author's case, mathematics). This would, I contend, be rather more
Oct 12, 2012 Wj rated it did not like it
So far - yes, I'm in chapter 2 but the book is already starting to - look bad.

As thin as the book is, it constantly manages to state small ideas repeatedly, and every time at the same shallow level with astonishing amount of redundancy (mostly consisting of chit-chat and self congratulations).

Meanwhile, a number of snobbish self-celebrating side notes have been sprinkled here and there, such as how the author (and maybe his good friend some big name) have collected some ancient books by Newton.
Dec 28, 2015 Jerzy rated it did not like it
Information theory and computer science aren't my field, so I have only a little to say about the content.
But I have more to say about the presentation :)

The toy model he presents strikes me as (1) not novel, and (2) not rich enough to found a whole new field, and (3) not relevant enough to real-world constraints to draw the conclusions he does.
(1) Plenty of people have played with computer simulations of evolution and with mathematical abstractions of such simulations. Maybe his specifi
Jul 11, 2012 Dale rated it did not like it
Shelves: science, nonfiction
Why, oh why, do people with little background in biology and evolution feel compelled to write books about evolution? It's a dark mystery.
May 30, 2012 Andrew rated it it was ok
This book promised so much, and yet delivered so little. To be sure, the author has some very interesting ideas that are worth being exposed to but that does not save this book. The first problem is in delivery - almost the entire book seems to be taken verbatim from class lectures. Certain content is duplicated often enough, that the book could have been cut in half with no loss. The second issue lies in the content itself. The author claims to have developed a working toy model of Darwinian ev ...more
Chris Aldrich
Jun 17, 2013 Chris Aldrich rated it it was ok
This book combining biology, microbiology, mathematics, evolution and even information theory is directly in my wheelhouse. I had delayed reading it following a few initial poor reviews, and sadly I must confirm that I'm ultimately disappointed in the direct effort shown here, though there is some very significant value buried within. Unfortunately the full value is buried so deeply that very few, if any, will actually make the concerted effort to find it.

This effort does seem to make a more hig
Alex Nelson
Feb 11, 2014 Alex Nelson rated it liked it
Shelves: biology
I'm no biologist, but I am familiar with Chaitin's work in mathematics.

As per the writing style, it's smooth and written conversationally. It's as though he were discussing his work at the dinner table. Consequently, it's great for me (a mathematician, not a biologist).

Now, regarding the beliefs Chaitin espouses. I find his take interesting. Ultimately, Chaitin argues DNA is the important thing in life, and life is marked by evolution.

He then pursues the standard machine learning approach to thi
Nov 11, 2012 Katherina rated it did not like it

Wow. I've only skimmed through a dozen pages and all I've noticed are the numerous exclamation points.
That just doesn't strike me as a convincing literary piece.
I picked the book up because of the title, thinking it would actually go in depth with the theory, but only reading the first two chapters I am disappointed with this book and I wouldn't even bother reading it.
Lupeng Jin
Jun 17, 2014 Lupeng Jin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is an interesting book which makes a bridge between mathematics and biology. If you are a big fan of Charles Darwin, you'd better read this book to broaden your insight and understanding about the nature. Even though some mathematical equations and functions are not easily understood at once as reading, I still recommend this book to you all. I believe your skills of mathematics are far better than mine.
Apr 27, 2013 Devero rated it liked it
In se è una lettura interessante, certo, servirebbe un lettore con conoscenze di informatica e matematica degli algoritmi decisamente superiore alla mia per poterlo apprezzare. D'altra parte la metabiologia sta nascendo effettivamente in questi anni, come primo abbozzo di teoria dopo che da tempo se ne parla. Ricordo accenni al tempo di alcuni miei corsi, e sono passati almeno 15 anni. Come dice l'autore nel capitolo chiave, il 5, "L'informatica teorica è biologia teorica".
Non sono d'accordo su
Nov 04, 2013 Brady rated it really liked it
An interesting read, by a scientist who is incredibly passionate about his subject. The model of mathematical evolution described, while simple and preliminary, is also quite elegant and opens the door to a new perspective on evolution, biology, and indeed life itself; I'm excited to see where this new field of research leads. Highly reccomended to anyone with an interest in the beauty of mathematics and biology.
Alexi Parizeau
Jun 30, 2015 Alexi Parizeau rated it it was amazing
I love Chaitin's new field of research called 'metabiology', and his method for proving evolution at the meta level is very clever. But there's still lots of work to do before metabiology can be useful. I'm optimistic though.
Bruce Becker
Nov 06, 2013 Bruce Becker rated it did not like it
no comment.
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Gregory Chaitin is widely known for his work on metamathematics and for his discovery of the celebrated Omega number, which proved the fundamental unknowability of math. He is the author of many books on mathematics, including Meta Math! The Quest for Omega. Proving Darwin is his first book on biology. Chaitin was for many years at the IBM Watson Research Center in New York. The research described ...more
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“Propongo che si misuri il valore di una nazione in base alla sua creatività, alla produzione di nuove idee scientifiche, artistiche, tecnologiche o sociali, non in termini di denaro."...

"Le nazioni muoiono quando diventano rigide e inflessibili, quando la loro burocrazia domina tutto e ristagnano, quando hanno un'opinione troppo alta di loro stesse."

Gregory Chaitin in Darwin Alla Prova.”
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