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Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems
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Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  87 ratings  ·  11 reviews
John Holland argues that understanding the origin of the intricate signal/border hierarchies of these systems is the key to answering such questions. He develops an overarching framework for comparing and steering cas through the mechanisms that generate their signal/boundary hierarchies. Holland lays out a path for developing the framework that emphasizes agents, niches, ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published July 13th 2012 by MIT Press (MA) (first published January 1st 2012)
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Mengsen Zhang
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thid is a good book but not quite satisfying. Holland is among those who made the most influential intellectual contribution to complexity science. I love his first genetic algorithm book to death. This review is entirely personal, so it might not reflect the greatness of this book due to the limitation of my own knowledge in this field and insufficient reading of his previous works.

I think the overall goal, or at least one major goal, of this book is to articulate his own picture of space. We a
William Anderson
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was really great in terms of its exploration, examples and so forth.
Some parts are quite inspiring I think for any field, but Im also sure there is a lot I failed to absorb.
Its the type of book I plan to re-read 5 years in the future and take in on a different level.
Eric Lawton
Aug 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was very disappointed by this book - I'd read the free sample on Kindle and it looked very interesting. Luckily, I got it from a library as I would really have hated to pay full price.

The premise is that you can model many aspects of complex adaptive systems (CAS's) using the mathematical formalism of Dynamic Generated Systems (dgs's (Holland's non-capitalization)).

He asserts that dgs's can model ecosystems, organisms, biological cells, economies, governments and more. Dgs's model the idea of
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I am usually sceptical about theories of everything of any kind, Holland's book is very good at explaining complex adaptive systems as models of seemingly unrelated things like genes, populations, economy and language.

The book reads like a college textbook with a matter of fact, deliberate tone. In each chapter a more complex and powerful models are introduced with more and more bizarre mathematical notations. The quirky way of modeling is why the book is a star off of perfect score. The
Denis Romanovsky
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author gave an overview and a quite deep exloratory investigation of the signal/boundary systems theory. There is a lot from complex adaptive systems. The theory is quite profound and interesting for those who want to understand origins of life, complex organisms, markets and economy. Though, the text of the book is quite abstract and sometimes hard to read.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complex_system
Highly likely, in this book J. H. Holland tries to summarize his last thoughts on complex adaptive system in his old age. Could serve as a book for inspriations for anyone who are working in a field of CAS that is discussed in the book. The theorization looks too general to be immediately useful.
Vikas Erraballi
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Content is 5 stars but not as accessible or streamlined as it could have been. Find something else for an intro to the topic.
Franck Chauvel
J. H. Holland presents another take on an overarching theory of complex adaptive systems such as financial markets, ecosystems, cells, or human organisations. The objective is to explain, or at least reproduce some of their key features including differentiation, specialisation, niche, etc. The author focuses here on signals and boundaries, that is one the mechanisms that could yields structures and communications between them.

I found the book interesting, but I did not really get how the many p
Gerhard Kessell-haak
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Takes a fairly simple idea, wraps a three-letter acronym around it, and proceeds to use reasoning by analogy to make supposedly deep points. Interesting, but not useful.
Mike Putnam
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This exploratory approach to complex adaptive systems is bold and challenging.
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125 likes · 38 comments
“Current studies of networks (Newman, Barabasi, and Watts 2006) using notions of community and synchrony within subgroups help to make the niche concept more precise. However, it is noteworthy that few network studies concentrate on the formation of boundaries within a network. And there is even less study of mechanisms for the formation of hierarchies—mechanisms that would explain the pervasiveness of hierarchies in natural systems.” 1 likes
“regardless of the details of the agent’s interior apparatus, a cas agent can always be defined in terms of a set of signal-processing rules called classifier rules. Each rule accepts certain signals as inputs (specified by the condition part of the rule) and then processes the signals to produce outgoing signals (the action part of the rule). Formally, both signals and boundaries can be defined using strings of “letters” drawn from one basic “alphabet.” This limited alphabet has a counterpart in cellular biology, where both the structure of protein signals and important parts of “gateways” in semi- permeable membranes are defined using an alphabet of twenty amino acids.” 0 likes
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