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Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds

(Complex Adaptive Systems)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Mitchel Resnick's book is one of the very few in the field of computing with an interdisciplinary discourse that can reach beyond the technical community to philosophers, psychologists, and historians and sociologists of science."
-- Sherry Turkle, Professor, Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "Resnick's work provides a rare
Paperback, 184 pages
Published January 22nd 1997 by Bradford Book (first published 1994)
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The Cambrian Cloud
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall a nice book though I am partial to the first half in which Resnick does an excellent job of describing how large numbers of simple agents, following simple rules are capable of self organizing so as to produce enormously complex interactions in nature. Classic examples of self organizing behavior are ants, termites, flocks of geese etc...The second half of the book is more specifically geared toward the development of experimental software capable of producing complex behaviors found in ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams, Resnick shares his experience and thoughts on engaging students in the development of their own understanding about systems, especially with the concepts of centralization, decentralization, and self-organization. Resnick developed a particular computer language (StarLogo) for this engagement and much of the book gives the basic commands and explanation of these programs which he or the students developed. Despite this emphasis, the book is much more than ...more
Robert Hudder
May 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a book that explains clearly and simply emergent theory. It offers the idea that complex reactions can be explained with simple actions. It used StarLogo examples as a way of showing it and as a way of developing thinking around this stuff.

Traffic jams, population growth, city growth ants and termites are all explored as examples. I am glad to have revisited this book. The central idea has infected my thinking since I read it. It seems like a corollary of Occam's Razor, if the same thin
Charlie Whitney
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Though StarLogo, the program in which much of the book takes place, is dated, the ideas are still very relevant and interesting to consider, perhaps even more so in the light of social media. The main point of the book revolves around the idea of a decentralization as a method of programming and understand behavior. How do lots of small autonomous creatures interact without a leader? I'd like to think that facebook and twitter users are more complex creatures than logo turtles, but for some reas ...more
Adrian Herbez
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought this book would be an exploration of complex systems, but that's not exactly what it was. Instead, it was more of an exploration of how to teach complex systems using programming tools.

If you've read much about complexity, many of the ideas here will be familiar, but it may have a good deal of value for educators looking for ideas on how to encourage students to think about decentralized systems.
Franck Chauvel
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although this book was published in 1997, I found it very relevant and easy to read. It describes how building small parallel microworlds may improve our understanding of complex systems. Examples are illustrated with small StarLogo programs, a language that was superseded by NetLogo if I'm correct. The core value remains for me in the discussions and examples, not in the code. ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
More about computing than economics really, but at it's core the book is about the study of decentralised systems. It's a solid exploration, but possibly dated given that it was published in the '90's. ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computer-science
A very nice and easy to read book which introduce us to the massive parallel computational systems. The author studies several problems from the "parallel point of view" using a variant of the Logo programming language.

Very didactic and enjoyable!
Aug 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting albeit dated, but a good intro to the field for someone with no background.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A quick read, unassumingly written. I really like the things Resnick has to say about the "centralized mindset" and how to combat it through education that employs playful computer simulations. ...more
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