If you’ve ever wondered why so many popular songs you hear these days have a similar feel, there’s a simple reason: We’re importing them by the score as they roll off one particularly well-run assembly line. As John Seabrook, author of The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, explains, a handful of producers, led by the late Denniz Pop and his protégée, Max Martin, revolutionized the whole songwriting process, developing an almost industrialized method that allowed them to crank out hit after hit with almost uncanny precision.
Complexity Digest's insight:
This is an interesting example of how innovation can flourish in a complex ecosystem with a high degree of individual specialization and global coordination. Moreover, it has analogies with innovation in biological evolution.
Hiroki Sayama’s book “Introduction to the Modeling and Simulation of Complex Systems” is therefore a unique and welcome addition to any instructor’s collection. What makes it valuable is that it not only presents a state-of-the-art review of the domain but also serves as a gentle guide to learning the sophisticated art of modeling complex systems. The book is primarily composed of three types of chapters: preliminary chapters followed by logically interspersed modeling and analysis chapters. It has been designed for use both in basic as well as advanced courses spanning 1–2 semesters. Additionally, the book demonstrates the use of PyCX, a freely available Python-based complex systems simulation framework
Introduction to the modeling and analysis of complex systems: a review Muaz A. Niazi
This book presents a theory as well as methods to understand and to purposively influence complex systems. It suggests a theory of complex systems as nested systems, i. e. systems that enclose other systems and that are simultaneously enclosed by even other systems. According to the theory presented, each enclosing system emerges through time from the generative activities of the systems they enclose.
Systems are nested and often emerge unplanned, and every system of high dynamics is enclosed by a system of slower dynamics. An understanding of systems with faster dynamics, which are always guided by systems of slower dynamics, opens up not only new ways to understanding systems, but also to effectively influence them.
The aim and subject of this book is to lay out these thoughts and explain their relevance to the purposive development of complex systems, which are exemplified in case studies from an urban system. The interested reader, who is not required to be familiar with system-theoretical concepts or with theories of emergence, will be guided through the development of a theory of emergent nested systems. The reader will also learn about new ways to influence the course of events - even though the course of events is, in principle, unpredictable, due to the ever-new emergence of real novelty.
J. Richard Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies--a magnificent structure now called the "cosmic web" and mapped extensively by teams of astronomers. Here is his gripping insider's account of how a generation of undaunted theorists and observers solved the mystery of the architecture of our cosmos.
The Cosmic Web begins with modern pioneers of extragalactic astronomy, such as Edwin Hubble and Fritz Zwicky. It goes on to describe how, during the Cold War, the American school of cosmology favored a model of the universe where galaxies resided in isolated clusters, whereas the Soviet school favored a honeycomb pattern of galaxies punctuated by giant, isolated voids. Gott tells the stories of how his own path to a solution began with a high-school science project when he was eighteen, and how he and astronomer Mario Juri? measured the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies, a filament of galaxies that, at 1.37 billion light-years in length, is one of the largest structures in the universe.
Drawing on Gott's own experiences working at the frontiers of science with many of today's leading cosmologists, The Cosmic Web shows how ambitious telescope surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are transforming our understanding of the cosmos, and how the cosmic web holds vital clues to the origins of the universe and the next trillion years that lie ahead.
Plants and animals interact with each other and their surroundings, and these interactions--with all their complexity and contingency--control where species can survive and reproduce. In this comprehensive and groundbreaking introduction to the emerging field of ecological mechanics, Mark Denny explains how the principles of physics and engineering can be used to understand the intricacies of these remarkable relationships.
Denny opens with a brief review of basic physics before introducing the fundamentals of diffusion, fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, and heat transfer, taking care to explain each in the context of living organisms. Why are corals of different shapes on different parts of a reef? How can geckos climb sheer walls? Why can birds and fish migrate farther than mammals? How do desert plants stay cool? The answers to these and a host of similar questions illustrate the principles of heat, mass, and momentum transport and set the stage for the book's central topic--the application of these principles in ecology. Denny shows how variations in the environment--in both space and time--affect the performance of plants and animals. He introduces spectral analysis, a mathematical tool for quantifying the patterns in which environments vary, and uses it to analyze such subjects as the spread of invasive species. Synthesizing the book's materials, the final chapters use ecological mechanics to predict the occurrence and consequences of extreme ecological events, explain the emergence of patterns in the distribution and abundance of organisms, and empower readers to explore further.
Ecological Mechanics offers new insights into the physical workings of organisms and their environment.
This book describes the struggle to introduce a mechanism that enables next-generation information systems to maintain themselves. Our generation observed the birth and growth of information systems, and the Internet in particular. Surprisingly information systems are quite different from conventional (energy, material-intensive) artificial systems, and rather resemble biological systems (information-intensive systems). Many artificial systems are designed based on (Newtonian) physics assuming that every element obeys simple and static rules; however, the experience of the Internet suggests a different way of designing where growth cannot be controlled but self-organized with autonomous and selfish agents. This book suggests using game theory, a mechanism design in particular, for designing next-generation information systems which will be self-organized by collective acts with autonomous components. The challenge of mapping a probability to time appears repeatedly in many forms throughout this book.
The book contains interdisciplinary research encompassing game theory, complex systems, reliability theory and particle physics. All devoted to its central theme: what happens if systems self-repair themselves?
A companion to such acclaimed works as The Age of Wonder, A Clockwork Universe, and Darwin’s Ghosts—a groundbreaking examination of the greatest event in history, the Scientific Revolution, and how it came to change the way we understand ourselves and our world.
We live in a world transformed by scientific discovery. Yet today, science and its practitioners have come under political attack. In this fascinating history spanning continents and centuries, historian David Wootton offers a lively defense of science, revealing why the Scientific Revolution was truly the greatest event in our history.
The Invention of Science goes back five hundred years in time to chronicle this crucial transformation, exploring the factors that led to its birth and the people who made it happen. Wootton argues that the Scientific Revolution was actually five separate yet concurrent events that developed independently, but came to intersect and create a new worldview. Here are the brilliant iconoclasts—Galileo, Copernicus, Brahe, Newton, and many more curious minds from across Europe—whose studies of the natural world challenged centuries of religious orthodoxy and ingrained superstition.
From gunpowder technology, the discovery of the new world, movable type printing, perspective painting, and the telescope to the practice of conducting experiments, the laws of nature, and the concept of the fact, Wotton shows how these discoveries codified into a social construct and a system of knowledge. Ultimately, he makes clear the link between scientific discovery and the rise of industrialization—and the birth of the modern world we know.
Perceptual organization is the neuro-cognitive process that enables us to perceive scenes as structured wholes consisting of objects arranged in space. Simplicity in Vision explores the intriguing idea that these perceived wholes are given by the simplest organizations of the scenes. Peter A. van der Helm presents a truly multidisciplinary approach to answer fundamental questions such as: Are simplest organizations sufficiently reliable to guide our actions? What is the nature of the regularities that are exploited to arrive at simplest organizations? To account for the high combinatorial capacity and speed of the perceptual organization process, he proposes transparallel processing by hyperstrings. This special form of distributed processing not only gives classical computers the extraordinary computing power that seemed reserved for quantum computers, but also explains how neuronal synchronization relates to flexible self-organizing cognitive architecture in between the relatively rigid level of neurons and the still elusive level of consciousness.
This book is a concise navigator across the history of cybernetics, its state-of-the-art and prospects. The evolution of cybernetics (from N. Wiener to the present day) and the reasons of its ups and downs are presented. The correlation of cybernetics with the philosophy and methodology of control, as well as with system theory and systems analysis is clearly demonstrated. The book presents a detailed analysis focusing on the modern trends of research in cybernetics. A new development stage of cybernetics (the so-called cybernetics 2.0) is discussed as a science on general regularities of systems organization and control. The author substantiates the topicality of elaborating a new branch of cybernetics, i.e. organization theory which studies an organization as a property, process and system. The book is intended for theoreticians and practitioners, as well as for students, postgraduates and doctoral candidates. In the first place, the target audience includes tutors and lecturers preparing courses on cybernetics, control theory and systems science.
This book by philosophers of biology urges an organizational view of biological systems. They intend to contrast this materialist approach against the currently ascendant genetic (one might say, idealistic) perspective in biology. They claim as precursors Nicolas Rashevsky and Robert Rosen as well as Francisco Varela, and refer back as well to the antireductionist and holistic organicist tradition. The authors attempt an extension of this organizational view by way of laboriously constructing a ‘‘principled’’ understanding of autonomy, thus attempting to naturalize this concept by discovering its basic requirements—that is, to capture it in a net of logic. Their book could be placed in the systems science tradition as well.
What Actually is a Living System Materially?
Alvaro Moreno and Matteo Mossio: Biological Autonomy: A Philosophical and Theoretical Enquiry (History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences 12); Springer, Dordrecht, 2015, xxxiv + 221 pp., $129 hbk, ISBN 978-94-017-9836-5
Cooperation is powerful. There aren’t many highly cooperative species–but they nearly cover the planet. Ants alone account for a quarter of all animal matter. Yet the human capacity to work together leaves every other species standing. We organize ourselves into communities of hundreds of millions of individuals, inhabit every continent, and send people into space. Human beings are nature’s greatest team players. And the truly astounding thing is, we only started our steep climb to the top of the rankings–overtaking wasps, bees, termites and ants–in the last 10,000 years. Genetic evolution can’t explain this anomaly. Something else is going on. How did we become the ultrasocial animal? In his latest book, the evolutionary scientist Peter Turchin (War and Peace and War) solves the puzzle using some astonishing results in the new science of Cultural Evolution. The story of humanity, from the first scattered bands of Homo sapiens right through to the greatest empires in history, turns out to be driven by a remorseless logic. Our apparently miraculous powers of cooperation were forged in the fires of war. Only conflict, escalating in scale and severity, can explain the extraordinary shifts in human society–and society is the greatest military technology of all. Seen through the eyes of Cultural Evolution, human history reveals a strange, paradoxical pattern. Early humans were much more egalitarian than other primates, ruthlessly eliminating any upstart who wanted to become alpha male. But if human nature favors equality, how did the blood-soaked god kings of antiquity ever manage to claim their thrones? And how, over the course of thousands of years, did they vanish from the earth, swept away by a reborn spirit of human equality? Why is the story of human justice a chronicle of millennia-long reversals? Once again, the science points to just one explanation: war created the terrible majesty of kingship, and war obliterated it. Is endless war, then, our fate? Or might society one day evolve beyond it? There’s only one way to answer that question. Follow Turchin on an epic journey through time, and discover something that generations of historians thought impossible: the hidden laws of history itself.
Prepare to set aside what you think you know about yourself and microbes. Good health―for people and for plants―depends on Earth’s smallest creatures. The Hidden Half of Nature tells the story of our tangled relationship with microbes and their potential to revolutionize agriculture and medicine, from garden to gut.
When David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé decide to restore life into their barren yard by creating a garden, dead dirt threatens their dream. As a cure, they feed their soil a steady diet of organic matter. The results impress them. In short order, the much-maligned microbes transform their bleak yard into a flourishing Eden. Beneath their feet, beneficial microbes and plant roots continuously exchange a vast array of essential compounds. The authors soon learn that this miniaturized commerce is central to botanical life’s master strategy for defense and health.
They are abruptly plunged further into investigating microbes when Biklé is diagnosed with cancer. Here, they discover an unsettling truth. An armada of bacteria (our microbiome) sails the seas of our gut, enabling our immune system to sort microbial friends from foes. But when our gut microbiome goes awry, our health can go with it. The authors also discover startling insights into the similarities between plant roots and the human gut. We are not what we eat. We are all―for better or worse―the product of what our microbes eat.
This leads to a radical reconceptualization of our relationship to the natural world: by cultivating beneficial microbes, we can rebuild soil fertility and help turn back the modern plague of chronic diseases.
Books about science tend to fall into two categories: those that explain it to lay people in the hope of cultivating a wide readership, and those that try to persuade fellow scientists to support a new theory, usually with equations. Books that achieve both — changing science and reaching the public — are rare. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) was one. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is another. From the moment of its publication 40 years ago, it has been a sparkling best-seller and a scientific game-changer.
This proceedings volume contains talks and poster presentations from the International Symposium "Self-Organization in Complex Systems: The Past, Present, and Future of Synergetics", which took place in Germany. The Symposium was organized in honour of Hermann Haken. With his fundamental theory of Synergetics he had laid the mathematical-physical basis for describing and analyzing self-organization processes in a diversity of fields of research. The quest for common and universal principles of self-organization in complex systems was clearly covered by the wide range of interdisciplinary topics reported during the Symposium. These extended from complexity in classical systems and quantum systems over self-organisation in neuroscience even to the physics of finance. Moreover, by combining a historical view with a present status report the Symposium conveyed an impression of the allure and potency of this branch of research as well as its applicability in the future.
As the adage goes, home is where the heart is. This may seem self-explanatory, but none of our close primate cousins have anything like homes. Whether we live in an igloo or in Buckingham Palace, the fact that Homo sapiens create homes is one of the greatest puzzles of our evolution. In Home, neuroanthropologist John S. Allen marshals evidence from evolutionary anthropology, neuroscience, the study of emotion, and modern sociology to argue that the home is one of the most important cognitive, technological, and cultural products of our species’ evolution. It is because we have homes—relatively secure against whatever horrors lurk outside—that human civilizations have been able to achieve the periods of explosive cultural and creative progress that are our species’ hallmark.
Narratives of human evolution are dominated by the emergence of language, the importance of hunting and cooking, the control of fire, the centrality of cooperation, and the increasingly long time periods children need to develop. In Home, Allen argues that the home served as a nexus for these activities and developments, providing a stable and safe base from which forays into the unknown—both mental and physical—could be launched. But the power of the home is not just in what we accomplish while we have it, but in what goes wrong when we do not. According to Allen, insecure homes foster depression in adults and health problems in all ages, and homelessness is more than an economic tragedy: it is a developmental and psychological disaster.
Home sheds new light on the deep pleasures we receive from our homes, rooting them in both our evolution and our identity as humans. Home is not simply where the heart is, but the mind too. No wonder we miss it so when we are gone.
We know DNA is a master key that unlocks medical and forensic secrets, but its genealogical life is both revelatory and endlessly fascinating. Tracing genealogy is now the second-most popular hobby amongst Americans, as well as the second-most visited online category. This billion-dollar industry has spawned popular television shows, websites, and Internet communities, and a booming heritage tourism circuit.
The tsunami of interest in genetic ancestry tracing from the African American community has been especially overwhelming. In The Social Life of DNA, Alondra Nelson takes us on an unprecedented journey into how the double helix has wound its way into the heart of the most urgent contemporary social issues around race.
For over a decade, Nelson has studied this phenomenon. Weaving together keenly observed interactions with root-seekers alongside historical details and revealing personal narrative, she shows that genetic genealogy is a new tool for addressing old and enduring issues. In The Social Life of DNA, she explains how these cutting-edge DNA-based techniques are being used in myriad ways, including grappling with the unfinished business of slavery: to foster reconciliation, to establish ties with African ancestral homelands, to rethink and sometimes alter citizenship, and to make legal claims for slavery reparations specifically based on ancestry.
Nelson incisively shows that DNA is a portal to the past that yields insight for the present and future, shining a light on social traumas and historical injustices that still resonate today. Science can be a crucial ally to activism to spur social change and transform twenty-first-century racial politics. But Nelson warns her readers to be discerning: for, the social repair we seek can't be found in even the most sophisticated science. Engrossing and highly original, The Social Life of DNA is a must-read for anyone interested in race, science, history and how our reckoning with the past may help us to chart a more just course for tomorrow.
We are born crying, but those cries signal the first stirring of language. Within a year or so, infants master the sound system of their language; a few years after that, they are engaging in conversations. This remarkable, species-specific ability to acquire any human language -- "the language faculty" -- raises important biological questions about language, including how it has evolved. This book by two distinguished scholars -- a computer scientist and a linguist -- addresses the enduring question of the evolution of language. Robert Berwick and Noam Chomsky explain that until recently the evolutionary question could not be properly posed, because we did not have a clear idea of how to define "language" and therefore what it was that had evolved. But since the Minimalist Program, developed by Chomsky and others, we know the key ingredients of language and can put together an account of the evolution of human language and what distinguishes us from all other animals.Berwick and Chomsky discuss the biolinguistic perspective on language, which views language as a particular object of the biological world; the computational efficiency of language as a system of thought and understanding; the tension between Darwin's idea of gradual change and our contemporary understanding about evolutionary change and language; and evidence from nonhuman animals, in particular vocal learning in songbirds.
This book is not a text devoted to a pedagogical presentation of a specialized topic nor is it a monograph focused on the author's area of research. It accomplishes both these things while providing a rationale for why the reader ought to be interested in learning about fractional calculus. This book is for researchers who has heard about many of these scientifically exotic activities, but could not see how they fit into their own scientific interests, or how they could be made compatible with the way they understand science. It is also for beginners who have not yet decided where their scientific talents could be most productively applied. The book provides insight into the long-term direction of science and show how to develop the skills necessary to successfully do research in the twenty-first century.
Imagine trying to understand a stained glass window by breaking it into pieces and examining it one shard at a time. While you could probably learn a lot about each piece, you would have no idea about what the entire picture looks like. This is reductionism—the idea that to understand the world we only need to study its pieces—and it is how most social scientists approach their work.
In A Crude Look at the Whole, social scientist and economist John H. Miller shows why we need to start looking at whole pictures. For one thing, whether we are talking about stock markets, computer networks, or biological organisms, individual parts only make sense when we remember that they are part of larger wholes. And perhaps more importantly, those wholes can take on behaviors that are strikingly different from that of their pieces. Miller, a leading expert in the computational study of complex adaptive systems, reveals astounding global patterns linking the organization of otherwise radically different structures: It might seem crude, but a beehive’s temperature control system can help predict market fluctuations and a mammal’s heartbeat can help us understand the “heartbeat” of a city and adapt urban planning accordingly. From enduring racial segregation to sudden stock market disasters, once we start drawing links between complex systems, we can start solving what otherwise might be totally intractable problems.
Thanks to this revolutionary perspective, we can finally transcend the limits of reductionism and discover crucial new ideas. Scientifically founded and beautifully written, A Crude Look at the Whole is a powerful exploration of the challenges that we face as a society. As it reveals, taking the crude look might be the only way to truly see.
Decades of research in the cognitive and learning sciences have led to a growing recognition of the incredibly multi-faceted nature of human knowing and learning. Up to now, this multifaceted nature has been visible mostly in distinct and often competing communities of researchers. From a purely scientific perspective, "siloed" science―where different traditions refuse to speak with one another, or merely ignore one another―is unacceptable. This ambitious volume attempts to kick-start a serious, new line of work that merges, or properly articulates, different traditions with their divergent historical, theoretical, and methodological commitments that, nonetheless, both focus on the highly detailed analysis of processes of knowing and learning as they unfold in interactional contexts in real time.
Knowledge and Interaction puts two traditions in dialogue with one another: Knowledge Analysis (KA), which draws on intellectual roots in developmental psychology and cognitive modeling and focuses on the nature and form of individual knowledge systems, and Interaction Analysis (IA), which has been prominent in approaches that seek to understand and explain learning as a sequence of real-time moves by individuals as they interact with interlocutors, learning environments, and the world around them. The volume’s four-part organization opens up space for both substantive contributions on areas of conceptual and empirical work as well as opportunities for reflection, integration, and coordination.
In the hard sciences, which can often feel out of grasp for many lay readers, there are "great thinkers" who go far beyond the equations, formulas, and research. Minds such as Stephen Hawking philosophize about the functions and nature of the universe, the implications of our existence, and other impossibly fascinating, yet difficult questions. Stuart A. Kauffman is one of those great thinkers. He has dedicated his lifetime to researching "complex systems" at prestigious institutions and now writes his treatise on the most complex system of all: our universe.
A recent Scientific American article claims that "philosophy begins where physics ends, and physics begins where philosophy ends," and perhaps no better quote sums up what Kauffman's latest book offers. Grounded in his rigorous training and research background, Kauffman is inter-disciplinary in every sense of the word, sorting through the major questions and theories in biology, physics, and philosophy. Best known for his philosophy of evolutionary biology, Kauffman coined the term "prestatability" to call into question whether science can ever accurately and precisely predict the future development of biological features in organisms. As evidenced by the title's mention of creativity, the book refreshingly argues that our preoccupation to explain all things with scientific law has deadened our creative natures. In this fascinating read, Kauffman concludes that the development of life on earth is not entirely predictable, because no theory could ever fully account for the limitless variations of evolution. Sure to cause a stir, this book will be discussed for years to come and may even set the tone for the next "great thinker."
The book that may have saved democracy [Version 1.0]
1 THE DIGITAL SOCIETY A better future or worse? 2 COMPLEXITY TIME BOMB When systems get out of control 3 SOCIAL FORCES Revealing the causes of success and disaster 4 GOOGLE AS GOD? The dangerous promise of Big Data 5 GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE Major socio-economic shifts ahead 6 DIGITALLY ASSISTED SELF-ORGANIZATION Making the invisible hand work 7 HOW SOCIETY WORKS Social order by self-organization 8 NETWORKED MINDS Where human evolution is heading 9 ECONOMY 4.0 A participatory market society is born 10 THE SELF-ORGANIZING SOCIETY Taking the future in our hands
The Automation of Society is Next: How to Survive the Digital Revolution
I wrote this after being reminded, by English novelist Marina Lewycka, of this quote from one of Samuel Beckett’s lesser known, later short stories. Since starting it I have learned that the quote has become a staple of self-help and business books, headlined by one of the ubiquitous Timothy Ferriss manuals on how to be fabulous in no time at all with little or no effort. Then I found that, thanks to an article in Slate magazine, it has become the darling phrase of Silicon Valley and the so-called entrepreneurial set. My first thought was to accept having been scooped and jettison the chapter. But then I read the other pieces, mostly essays, out there that use this quote and realized that it was actually the perfect opportunity to illustrate how what virtually everyone else means by failure is different from what it means in science. And what better co-conspirator than Samuel Beckett.
Complexity theories gained prominence in the 1990s with a focus on self-organising and complex adaptive systems. Since then, complexity theory has become one of the fastest growing topics in both the natural and social sciences, and touted as a revolutionary way of understanding the behaviour of complex systems.
This book uses complexity theory to surface and challenge the deeply held cultural assumptions that shape how we think about reality and knowledge. In doing so it shows how our traditional approaches to generating and applying knowledge may be paradoxically exacerbating some of the ‘wicked’ environmental problems we are currently facing. The author proposes an innovative and compelling argument for rejecting old constructs of knowledge transfer, adaptive management and adaptive capacity. The book also presents a distinctively coherent and comprehensive synthesis of cognition, learning, knowledge and organizing from a complexity perspective. It concludes with a reconceptualization of the problem of knowledge transfer from a complexity perspective, proposing the concept of creative capacity as an alternative to adaptive capacity as a measure of resilience in socio-ecological systems.
Although written from an environmental management perspective, it is relevant to the broader natural sciences and to a range of other disciplines, including knowledge management, organizational learning, organizational management, and the philosophy of science.
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