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Emergence: From Chaos To Order
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Emergence: From Chaos To Order

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  224 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In this important book, John H. Holland dramatically shows us that the “emergence” of order from disorder has much to teach us about life, mind and organizations. Creative activities in both the arts and the sciences depend upon an ability to model the world. The most creative of those models exhibits emergent properties, so that “what comes out is more than what goes in.” ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 23rd 1999 by Basic Books (first published 1998)
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Good book for AI and software agents: This is a good book for people interested in Artificial Intelligence and Software agents (especially reactive agents). The book gives examples of emergent behaviours in the world. An interesting read.
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Not a light or easy read, even if you choose to ignore the maths in the boxes, but worth the effort. By sticking to a few of the many possible examples and explaining them in detail, Holland shows how complex behaviours can emerge from the repeated application of a few simple rules and how this behaviour can appear directed when constrained. I'm sure field has moved on since this was written, and perhaps some of the ideas in here are out of date or have led to dead ends, but that he doesn't ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Emergence: From Chaos to Order, Holland takes a complicated and difficult topic and attempts to make it accessible to the non-specialist. His writing is clear and succinct but is still a challenge for those not familiar with the area, especially computer programs. Despite the challenge, the book is well worth the effort. Holland draws largely from a consideration of games (especially checkers and chess) and simple neural nets to build the concepts in offer of models which demonstrate ...more
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complexity
I wouldn't recommend reading this book because I think it's outdated. But for the ones very interested in complexity and emergence, this is a nice reflexion from the pioneer of the field. State, action, transition function, agent: the basics of modelisation used everywhere. I still found it better than the one he wrote before (Hidden Order), but I give less stars because it's more niche.
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
John H. Holland is a major researcher in the field of artificial intelligence and the father of one of AI's most popular methodologies, the genetic algorithm. In this book, Holland explores the concept of emergence in complex systems. Complex systems are those systems that have multiple components, and as those components interact with each other they create exponentially increasing numbers of possible states of the system. So how does the researcher model a system such as this? Holland explains ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Holland is pretty much the dude that invented the genetic algorithm, and has done a bunch of groundbreaking AI work using bottom-up learning techniques. This book discusses a lot of these things, and how a small number of rules can create emergent higher-level behavior. In particular, I found his discussion of his 'classifier system' quite interesting. This is just a bunch of agents that can read/write strings from/to a common bulletin board. Each agent reads something, does something to it ...more
Franck Chauvel
J. Holland explains here "emergence": how patterns persist in complex adaptive systems (CAS). He starts with a general discussion about models, follows with a model of the checker board game, and gradually introduces neural networks. He then presents generative constraint procedures (GCP), a way to describe these CAS, which while being formal, remain accessible—at least I followed. After a discussion reductionism, he concludes with the current status and future of research on the topic.

I find
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Typically excellent work from Holland. Here are a few general excerpts:

We only know that having a familiarity with several "nearby" disciplines, when the target does not fit well within an established discipline, will enhance the possibility of a source --> target transfer. The perception of what's "nearby" is a part of that still mysterious trait we call insight. (p. 213)

At a deeper level, our abysmal ignorance of most aspects of cognition presents a serious deterrent to the understanding of
May 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
We never quite got to the order part except an imaginary one based on leaps of imagination, flights of fancy, and a slavish devotion to any scientific sounding theory that supported the author's thesis. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but you don't need this kind of leaping to conclusions, to call anything that suits a manifestation of emergence and to simply ignore anything that doesn't support the theory seems to be a bit intellectually dishonest. Although, in this case I would ...more
Sam Rose
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Critical learning for anyone involved in modeling dynamic/evolutionary systems
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