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Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  336 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Explains how scientists who study complexity are convinced that certain constant processes are at work in all kinds of unrelated complex systems.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 3rd 1996 by Basic Books (first published August 1st 1995)
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Dan Needles
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Short, quick read. The opening is worth the read as it provides a system perspective of the world where pattern rather than substance defines reality or at least is the only conduit through which reality can be experienced. Specifically interactions in space and time render meaning to objects and we do not experience the objects themselves per se but rather interpolate they exist from myriad of interactions with the same location in space over time using diverse sensory experiences.

The book the
Jimmy Ele
May 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
I picked this up hoping for it to shed some light on complex adaptive systems, in particular: how adaptation builds complexity. What I read instead was a book that was unfocused, unclear and rushed. Instead of taking the proper time to explain the nuances of the theory, John H. Holland instead assumes everyone already knows what he's talking about and then proceeds to explain things in a rushed and unfocused manner. I do not recommend this book to anyone, as it did not shed any more light on the ...more
Peter S
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book, but difficult to review. This book raises hundreds of interesting questions but answers very few. If you liked Anti-fragile (Taleb), the Misbehavior of Markets (Mandlebrot), or the Selfish Gene (Dawkins) you'll probably like this as well.

I also think reading Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows before reading this was helpful.

If you read books to settle scores, however, you won't like this at all.
Andrei Savu
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good back-to-the-basics read on properties and mechanisms that describe complex adaptive systems and adaptive agents. Many problems in this category are now tackled as part of the work being done on reinforcement learning and artificial intelligence. Amazing to see how in the past 5-10 years we moved from research into a series of impactful practical applications.
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
No fat, bare bones book. If it had not been for other books that I've read on complexity, chaos, and emergence, I might have been lost. Overall, good read and fairly easy to get through.
EG Gilbert
Sep 20, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Franck Chauvel
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
J. Holland describes the key properties and mechanisms of complex adaptive systems (CAS). These mechanisms are the presence of building blocks, tagging, and internal models. Properties are aggregation, nonlinearity flows and diversity. He then describes a thought experiment to reproduce "morphogenesis": the emergence of specialisation and aggregation through evolution only.

I found the text easy to read, easier for instance than Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Curious 1995 introduction to "complex adaptive systems" (from the human body / immune system to cities and economies), the second half is a semi-interesting detailed overview of computer modeling a genetically-evolved agent system to understand these more directly than where the author feels mathematical modeling was struggling to deal with the non-linearity and hierarchical/relational aspects of these systems.
Matías Aranguiz
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Really interesting topic, not very well writtten book.
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Eu li a versão portuguesa da Gradiva.

Estamos perante um tratado extraordinário sobre a complexidade. O autor consegue, numa linguagem acessível, transmitir o state-of-the-art (em 1995) sobre este fenómeno que é um dos mistérios que a ciência ainda não conseguiu explicar nem caracterizar. O autor defende que, através de regras e processos simples, descritos em detalhe, a adaptação gera a complexidade. O único ponto menos forte da obra é o detalhe e as páginas dedicadas a certos pontos que não irã
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complexity
I'm going to give a 5 stars rating to this book because its first half and conclusion are worth it. Introduction to "Complex Adaptive Systems" (CAS), their properties, and mechanisms to to understand them. I was quite surprised to read a book that is almost a quarter of century old and still very relevant as an introduction to the field. It speaks of the vision of the author. The two tiers theory (theories of different scales) hinted at the end looks very promising as well.

Chapters 3 and 4, abou
Garrett Mccutcheon
Dec 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: engineering
An interesting primer on the subject of designing and building a model for complex adaptive systems. Holland walks through his work in a way that is accessible to the lay reader, and builds from foundation to completion an understanding of the subject. This work should be of interest to anyone who works in modelling or simulation, artificial intelligence, biology, or mathematics.
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Though this book's heart is in the right place, it is better titled: The Echo Runbook. Its diagrams appear to come from a nearby whiteboard, not its text. Unless you're an aspiring geneticist, do not attempt this book before reading Complexity.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I think THE pioneer of artificial life and genetic algorithms, and mentor to legions. A classic.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A model of clear thinking about modeling complex adaptive systems. Should be required reading after Braitenberg's "Vehicles."
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Interesting take on how organisms adapt
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“A brief look at the role of tested building blocks in technical innovations will help us understand the role of building blocks in the specific case of rule innovation. A scan of history shows that technical innovations almost always arise as a particular combination of well-known building blocks. Take two technological innovations that have revolutionized twentieth-century society, the internal combustion engine and the digital computer. The internal combustion engine combines Volta's sparking device, Venturi's (perfume) sprayer, a water pump's pistons, a mill's gear wheels, and so on. The first digital computers combined Geiger's particle counter, the persistence (slow fade) of cathode ray tube images, the use of wires to direct electrical currents, and so on. In both cases most of the building blocks were already in use, in different contexts, in the nineteenth century. It was the specific combination, among the great number possible, that provided the innovation. When a new building block is discovered, the result is usually a range of innovations. The transistor revolutionized devices ranging from major appliances to portable radios and computers. Even new building blocks are often derived, at least in part, by combining more elementary building blocks. Transistors were founded on knowledge of selenium rectifiers and semiconductors.” 1 likes
“The diversity of 'cas'(complex adaptive systems) is a dynamic patter, often persistent and coherent like the standing wave we alluded to earlier. If you disturb the wave, say with a stick or paddle, the wave quickly repairs itself once the disturbance is removed. Similarly in 'cas', a pattern of interactions disturbed by the extinction of component agents often reasserts itself, though the new agents may differ in detail from the old. There is, however, a crucial difference between the standing wave pattern and 'cas' patterns: 'cas' patterns evolve. The diversity observed in 'cas' is the product of progressive adaptations. Each new adaptation opens the possibility for further interactions and new niches.” 1 likes
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