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# Complexity: A Guided Tour

Complexity This book provides an intimate, highly readable tour of the sciences of complexity, which seek to explain how large-scale complex, organized, and adaptive behavior can emerge from simple interactions among myriad individuals. The author, a leading complex systems scientist, describes the history of ideas, current research, and future prospects in this vital scie...more

Hardcover, 366 pages

Published
May 28th 2009
by OUP USA
(first published March 2nd 2009)

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If you have pondered any of these questions, "Complexity: A Guided Tour" is just the book for you.1

Any computer scientist who graduated in the last ten or so years would have covered some of the topics in Melanie Mitchell's "Complexity: A Guided Tour", and would have probably wished that they had Ms. Mitchell as a lecturer!

Ms. Mitchell is clearly passionate...more

Mitchel...more

The...more

Con questo testo Melanie colma una lacuna importante: un testo introduttivo e comprensivo alla disciplina che va sotto il nome di Complessità.

E come c'era da aspettarsi il risultato è ottimo. Il testo introduce prima elementi di teoria dell'informazione, computazione, evoluzione e genetica, e poi passa in rassegn...more

I particularly liked the chapter that described her work in some detail- the iterative process of running 'codelets' on statements to extract meaningful relationships between elements and generate analogies.

The materi...more

I'm also impressed about the overall

*niceness*of this book - for...more

I now have a more in DEPTH vague notion of the topic, but still lack a unifying concept. However, I'm relaxed about that now because it seems there IS no such unifying concept (yet).

Highly recommended book that touches on so many interesting topics. Looking at them through the lens of complexity makes them even more interesting. (Computation, genetics, the immune system,...more

For me it was a quick, fun read that put the different topics together quite nicely. And se...more

Dr. Mitchell concludes this excellent volume with admission that complexity is in "early stages," and requires "an adventurous intellectual...more

Jun 10, 2010
Richard Williams
added it

first half or so is good, up to her phd thesis explanation. best put that chapter into an appendix and rewrite the rest.

apparently popular science is best written either as a cumulation story or as independent chapters that tie together in the end. the cumulation story would be introduction, then more info, then big point you want to make after most everyone is up to speed. the issue is how to provide background information without loosing people and boring the knowledgeable at the same. what ti...more

apparently popular science is best written either as a cumulation story or as independent chapters that tie together in the end. the cumulation story would be introduction, then more info, then big point you want to make after most everyone is up to speed. the issue is how to provide background information without loosing people and boring the knowledgeable at the same. what ti...more

Overlapping concepts and recurring basic elements arising from different disciplines such as the above includ...more

Why is this subject important? Want to know how the brain works? It is a complex network of neurons, and thought is an emergent phenomenon. Want to know ho...more

For those interested in a general and easily readable h...more

La complessità è una cosa complicata. Fin qui non ci piove. Ma lo è forse ancora più di quanto si pensi: anche se esiste la Teoria della Complessità, se si chiede a due ricercatori in questo campo di definirla si otterranno con ogni probabilità almeno due risposte diverse. Melanie Mitchell, probabilmente nota ai fan di Douglas Hofstadter visto che è stata una sua studentessa, ha racc...more

Actually, “usefully en...more

The middle was not as interesting and - for me, with weak math and technical background - not really accessible.

Mitchell does a decent job of conveying both the objective importance of complexity as a field of study/research, and she described how she got interested and was pulled in to the work. Then she launches into a series of chapters that give examples of case studies in complexity as it current...more

Dr. Mitchell concludes this excellent volume with admission that complexity is in "early stages," and requires "an adventurous intellectual...more

That sums it up.

The author has a refereshing moment of honesty at the end, making an admissio...more

*Complexity*provides this grounding for upcoming researchers in complex systems. I personally picked up this boo...more

Oct 06, 2009
Tom
rated it
5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for:
Thinkers

Recommended to Tom by:
Thomas Minnick

You know you're a geek if you can hardly put it down and read this book in two days. This is a terrific, well-written, entertaining, and sometimes humorous introduction to and history of the science of complexity and complex adaptive systems. Don't be put off by the formulas and diagrams, nor by the detailed discussions of such esoteric concepts as genetic algorithms. Read it for the high-level discussion of the discipline that considers such wide-ranging topics as why economies, ant colonies, m...more

On the other hand, in places the author doesn't grasp subtle distinctions and displays slightly obtuse thinking, and to her credit admits that she doesn't fully understand Wolfram's book about computation.

Other reviewers here at goodreads have made some excellent points as well...

So on the whole what you have is a book...more

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“Whew, this might be getting a bit confusing. I hope you are following me so far. This is the point in every Theory of Computation course at which students either throw up their hands and say "I can't get my mind around this stuff!" or clap their hands and say "I love this stuff!"

Needless to say, I was the second kind of student, even though I shared the confusion of the first.”
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Needless to say, I was the second kind of student, even though I shared the confusion of the first.”

“This statement is not provable.” Think about it for a minute. It’s a strange statement, since it talks about itself—in fact, it asserts that it is not provable. Let’s call this statement “Statement A.” Now, suppose Statement A could indeed be proved. But then it would be false (since it states that it cannot be proved). That would mean a false statement could be proved—arithmetic would be inconsistent. Okay, let’s assume the opposite, that Statement A cannot be proved. That would mean that Statement A is true (because it asserts that it cannot be proved), but then there is a true statement that cannot be proved—arithmetic would be incomplete. Ergo, arithmetic is either inconsistent or incomplete.”
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