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Does God Play Dice?: The New Mathematics of Chaos

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,336 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The revised and updated edition includes three completely new chapters on the prediction and control of chaotic systems. It also incorporates new information regarding the solar system and an account of complexity theory. This witty, lucid and engaging book makes the complex mathematics of chaos accessible and entertaining. Presents complex mathematics in an accessible sty ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 26th 2002 by Wiley-Blackwell (first published 1989)
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,336 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it

This book is a solid, interesting and insightful introduction to Chaos theory (the relatively recent and fascinating branch of physics that deals with the study of nonlinear dynamical systems exhibiting extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, in which seemingly random complex behavior can derive from simple deterministic, innocuous-looking equations).

The material treated by the book is pretty standard for a good introduction to the subject: I think that it could actually be used as a supporti
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Before we start with the review, let's take a moment to appreciate how good of a science communicator Ian Stewart is.

Now on with the nitty gritty.

When faced with accepting Quantum Mechanics, Einstein famously said: "God does not play dice with the universe", to which Stephen Hawking wittily replied: "Not only does God play, but he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen". Quantum Mechanics, you see, cannot be handled with simple every day linear mathematics. Instead we attempt to explain
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a great introduction to chaos theory! This book is not only well-written, but it's also incredibly interesting.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
An extremely accessible history of the emergence of chaos theory and description of its fundamental elements and dynamics. Written with an eye for humor, the book is a real triumph of conceptual clarity for the non-mathematically inclined and reflects an important extension to the basic qualitative understanding of science, the ramifications of which are still working themselves out even in the hard scientific disciplines. I am, however, thoroughly looking forward to the eventual impact this new ...more
Karel Baloun
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's stunning and intriguing review of nonlinear systems (chaos), from countless real world perspectives. Stewart's humorous and engaging writing style makes the book a pleasure. He starts from simple mathematical equations and simple physical systems such as pendulums and turbulent water, and routinely takes the idea out to cutting edge research or engineering possibilities.

Now I know what math textbooks and areas of study to proceed to, and Stewart has given mea geometric ability to visualize,
May 20, 2011 rated it liked it
A readable and witty introduction to chaos theory, which is only too misunderstood. This book focuses on the implications which chaos has in mathematics, with an emphasis on maps, fractals, and other such phenomenon. A solid layman introduction.
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times a bit technical, this is indeed an intriguing book, a passionate account of Stewart on chaos theory and how endless applications and uses it has. I really enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone to challenge your perspective on how things happen in world.
Alex Delogu
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book really gets into the theoretical stuff that was missing in Gleick's book on chaos. It still doesn't go heavily into the math but I struggled with some of the more technical material. I will certainly come back to. Stewart is a gifted expositor.
Koen Crolla
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
Nothing particularly new, but I guess I've read enough of these now that that was pretty likely. It's a very good overview of the whats and whys of chaos theory, comparable to Gribbin's Deep Simplicity, though maybe slightly less accessible. The final chapter is marred by an ill-conceived rant at a straw man of reductionism, but nobody is perfect.
José González
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good introduction to chaos. It’s rewarding both as a mathematics book and a philosophical inquiry of the nature of our relation to knowledge of the natural world. This relation is established through the human language of math.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mymath
Um excelente livro sobre o Caos.

Esse livro fez-me recordar sobre a formação de Engenheiro de Controle de Processos, versando sobre inflexões, pontos de sela, autovalores (eigenvalues) e outros aspectos fascinantes à existência de um ponto de equilíbrio ou tendente à instabilidade.

Deve ser lido como um livro de idéias, sem as fórmulas matemáticas complexas para determinar se um ponto leva à instabilidade ou não, além das questões da passagem de um mundo analógio (mundo real) para o digital (compu
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best mathematical models for many physical events rely on chaotic formulas and the number continues to grow rapidly. It now appears that some exposure to chaos and fractals will be a necessary component of the education of all future applied mathematicians. Given the simplicity of many of the equations, it can be strongly argued that chaos should be an early component of all mathematics education. Also, programming a computer to generate the images is very simple and a lot of fun.
To study ch
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high school students
Chaos represents the third great scientific revolution of last century, after Einstein's relativity and (among the earliest) Plank's and Nernst's quantum field theory. As the others two, chaos is endowed with a veil of mistery and fantasy and remoteness, though appealing in this case, even though its rules are by now quite known and its growing applications are very disparate. This notwithstanding, chaos remains more a curiosity or an abused metaphor among college students, not talking about you ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's a thankless task trying to write for a general audience about a subject as rich, varied and profound as mathematics. Especially in a culture where maths is so badly taught many adults take great pride in not being any good at it (hint: there's a lot more to maths than endlessly adding and dividing fractions!) Some fail by being too superficial, but Ian Stewart can't be accused of that. Here he takes on the relatively new field of chaos, the mathematics of systems where very small changes in ...more
Brian Powell
Mar 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-sci
I enjoyed this book initially but felt like it kinda ran out of steam about half-way through. The author's writing style is friendly and engaging, and the material is most definitely interesting. Overall, it was light in details -- which I guess is the point of a popular-level account -- but I found it generally lacking. The title is a bit sensationalized too -- god does play dice but not through chaos. The subtitle is also misleading -- this is not a book about the mathematics of chaos per se.. ...more
Franck Chauvel
Ian explains in, I think, a very accessible way the mathematics of "Chaos". I found the selected examples simple enough and yet compelling and I liked the stories about the scientists who pioneered the field. Ian also outlook various applications of chaos theory to practical issues, including spring manufacturing.

A very nice introduction, which I recommend to those, like me, who run away when Greek symbols show up. I eventually did not understood whether God plays dice or not, but the I learned
Eric Hertenstein
Apr 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
More Mathy than Chaos but covering much of the same ground. An excellent introduction to the wonders of phase space, and there's a fantastic little bit about Pointcaré near the beginning. Stewart's kind of a cad, though.
T Campbell
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and clearly the basis for a lot of modern understanding of the concept. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to brush up their own mathematical knowledge. It's an older book with added chapters, and could stand to be updated to be a bit more contemporary in terms of the modern implications of its subjects, but that's a tough compromise to manage: get too meaty and you lose accessibility. Still, I'm picking up another Ian Stewart book now.
Josh Holland
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely introduction to chaos and its discovery and applications in nonlinear dynamics. The style of writing is accessible but not patronising, and there is a nice amount of Ian Stewart's wit scattered amongst the pages.

It focuses more on chaos than the quantum mechanics the titular quote refers to, but there is a chapter on QM at the end. It is a very good read for people interested in chaos and how the world really works.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers interested in science and mathematics
A good introduction to chaos theory, and some of the mathematics behind it, and possible applications. Topics include strange attractors, self-similarity, and fractals. The book includes some helpful illustrations. The book seems to go into a bit more mathematical detail (some actual equations) than a typical book about chaos theory for a general audience. This particular edition of the book seems to be a bit out-dated in some places (given that it was published in 1990).
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
excellent introduction to chaos theory and nonlinear dynamics, including their relationship to topology, history of discovery, and projections into the future. in particular enjoyed learning about poincare sections and how they relate to phase portraits and attractors. also chaotic control (von neuman's dream).
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great and lean introduction to the topics of non-linear dynamics and chaos. Ian Stewart is an excellent mathematics popularizer.

The book offers multitude of examples of nonlinearity's existence and utilization which quickly segway to how the mathematical theories explaining them were created.

I recommend this position to anyone casually interested in mathematics.
Trystan Hopkins
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Read this and one other book on Chaos theory. The author misrepresents Einstein's theories at many points in the book, i presume in order to promote his own relativistic views as if they were supported by Einstein himself. Ultimately, it reads like a book whose author didn't fully understand the topic at hand.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Not my cup of tea, but very interesting indeed. Some concepts are hard to follow for a layman, but all in all, Stewart uses accessible language and lots of examples, so you get a general idea. I'd recommend it as an introduction to the subject.
Bradley Gram-hansen
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ian Stewart writes many books, including this one, which cater to both mathematicians and non-mathematicians. Although, no mathematical knowledge is required, they are very insightful books and are a great bit of fun!
Jul 12, 2012 added it
You'll enjoy it if we can appreciate the ubiquitous mathematics in our world!
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really good book about chaos, which behaves in not yet understood way, but somehow beautiful and orderly. Beautiful paradox in maths.
Carroll Straus
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Superb, even for a lay reader. Enchanting.
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-math
Another excellent introduction with another point of view
Carlisdania Mendoza
Nov 09, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked it. Very fun to read, quite challenging.
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Ian Nicholas Stewart is an Emeritus Professor and Digital Media Fellow in the Mathematics Department at Warwick University, with special responsibility for public awareness of mathematics and science. He is best known for his popular science writing on mathematical themes.
--from the author's website

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