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# Complexity: A Guided Tour

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What enables individually simple insects like ants to act with such precision and purpose as a group? How do trillions of neurons produce something as extraordinarily complex as consciousness? In this remarkably clear and companionable book, leading complex systems scientist Melanie Mitchell provides an intimate tour of the sciences of complexity, a broad set of efforts th
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Kindle Edition, 368 pages

Published
(first published March 2nd 2009)

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Start your review of Complexity: A Guided Tour

A very informative and easy-to-read book on complexity and complex systems. Although I learned a lot about the computer science and biological perspectives to complexity and I enjoyed it, but I think the focus on these perspectives is too much and very detailed which leaves very little space for equally interesting perspectives, such as socio-economic approach, or the so called complex adaptive systems approach. Therefore, the book on complex adaptive systems by Miller and Page m ...more

Aug 23, 2014
WarpDrive
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review of another edition

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science-and-maths

Nice introductory book about a number of topics in the emerging field of "complexity".

Complexity is a very broad subject, still under significant theoretical development, that touches upon many scientific fields such as biology, computer sciences, information theory, genetics, network theory etc, so this book occasionally feels a bit disjointed (which is unavoidable considering the nature of the subject) - it must be said however that the author manages to convey, in a clear manner, the main fe ...more

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

Aug 14, 2019
Blair
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liked it
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review of another edition

Shelves:
science-physics,
zzz-public-library

Maybe I should not blame the messenger for delivering the news that measuring or even defining complexity is complex, and there are multiple conflicting ways to try and do that. So the issues I hoped would be addressed, such as a discussion of emergent properties that goes beyond vague hand waving, were not addressed, perhaps because they can’t be. There are some worthwhile chapters giving examples on the emergence of complex adaptive behaviour from a large number of simple but connected compone
...more

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

This book made me flash-back to my Computer Science studies, but in a very good way. It touches on theoretical foundations (Turing Machines, decidability, halting problem, genetic algorithms, fractals, laws of thermodynamics, ...) but the writing is very fluent and approachable.

The author introduced me to the field of Network Theory, a science that builds on graph theory. It leads to interesting questions (and answers!) ...more

Apr 12, 2017
Thomas Preusser
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readspre2017

Complexity is an emerging multidisciplinary branch of science. The origins of this new branch of science is in the realm of biologic ecosystems such as ant colonies in which a network of relatively simply programmed "building block" agents (i.e. ants) seems in net to exhibit a certain level of environmental ecosystem cognition (i.e. complexity). This cognition supports adaptation, and hence the term Complex Adaptive Systems is often used inclusive at the apex of human brain and global internet s
...more

May 05, 2012
Rushi
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review of another edition

Shelves:
popular-science,
2012

How does an ant colony organize itself? How does the immune system work? What is the similarity between the world wide web and your brain?

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

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

I'm also impressed about the overall

*niceness*of this book - for ...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

It felt like I was carefully examining a specific puzzle piece and then I’d set it down and examine another piece intently but it never fit with the previous or consecutive pieces. In the end I was still left with a jumbled pile of puzzle pieces. Granted I can see the contours of the individual pieces a little more clearly but I’m sti ...more

However, there were several points where I felt incredibly bored, specifically from when she began to describe her PhD thesis. I think the bits o ...more

The most challenging part was the chapter on the halting problem and Turing machines. If you got through that, the rest of the book won't be too much of a challenge.

I was surprised to find out how many topics I was already familiar with (to varying degrees), but have seen from a slightly different perspective while reading this book.

Definitely recommended !

There is a lot to like: all of the greatest hits are here with suitable background knowledge (bifurcation in logistics maps, numerical chaos, cellular automata, genetic algorithms and adaptation, information theory, theory ...more

Oct 03, 2019
Bety Cajica
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
science,
read-in-english

Such an awesome introduction to complexity.

Dr. Mitchell takes your hand and show you all the highlights about complexity -so far- and what awaits for the field in the future.

Also, I loved how she uses situations about her kids to illustrate some concepts haha.

Dr. Mitchell takes your hand and show you all the highlights about complexity -so far- and what awaits for the field in the future.

Also, I loved how she uses situations about her kids to illustrate some concepts haha.

Aug 03, 2011
Ed
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really liked it
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review of another edition

Shelves:
my-reviews,
complexity

Melanie Mitchell is an excellent writer and teacher. She explains things very clearly, providing enough detail to be informative without overwhelming readers who have limited prior knowledge of the subject. This is an extremely useful book for anyone who wants to become familiar with basic concepts in the study of complexity. Mitchell exemplifies the concepts by discussing the immune system, ant colonies, biological metabolism and genetic networks. I found the book informative and enjoyable.

The ...more

The ...more

“One striking instance of Evo-Devo in action is the famous example of the evolution of finches’ beaks. As I described in chapter 5, Darwin observed large variations in beak size and shape among finches native to the Galápagos Islands. Until recently, most evolutionary biologists would have assumed that such variations resulted from a gradual process in which chance mutations of several dif ...more

Mitchel ...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 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

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

The pace is good, but a ...more

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