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In retrospect: On Growth and Form

Like Newton's Principia, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's On Growth and Form is a book more often name-checked than read. Both are hefty — Thompson's revised edition in 1942 weighed in at more than 1,000 pages, to the alarm of Cambridge University Press.

And both books stand apart from their age. Each contains ideas ahead of its time, yet seems rooted in earlier traditions. First published in 1917, with the modern synthesis of neo-Darwinian biology two or three decades away and genes still a nascent concept, On Growth and Form looked in some ways archaic by the time the second edition appeared — yet it continues to inspire.

 

In retrospect: On Growth and Form

Philip Ball
Nature 494, 32–33 (07 February 2013)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/494032a

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Complexity: A Very Short Introduction (by John H. Holland)

The importance of complexity is well-captured by Hawking's comment: "Complexity is the science of the 21st century". From the movement of flocks of birds to the Internet, environmental sustainability, and market regulation, the study and understanding of complex non-linear systems has become highly influential over the last 30 years.

In this Very Short Introduction, one of the leading figures in the field, John Holland, introduces the key elements and conceptual framework of complexity. From complex physical systems such as fluid flow and the difficulties of predicting weather, to complex adaptive systems such as the highly diverse and interdependent ecosystems of rainforests, he combines simple, well-known examples -- Adam Smith's pin factory, Darwin's comet orchid, and Simon's 'watchmaker' -- with an account of
the approaches, involving agents and urn models, taken by complexity theory.

 

 

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Tom Cockburn's curator insight, July 16, 12:34 AM

Very good overrview

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The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It (by Ian Goldin & Mike Mariathasan)

The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It

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Global hyperconnectivity and increased system integration have led to vast benefits, including worldwide growth in incomes, education, innovation, and technology. But rapid globalization has also created concerns because the repercussions of local events now cascade over national borders and the fallout of financial meltdowns and environmental disasters affects everyone. The Butterfly Defect addresses the widening gap between systemic risks and their effective management. It shows how the new dynamics of turbo-charged globalization has the potential and power to destabilize our societies. Drawing on the latest insights from a wide variety of disciplines, Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan provide practical guidance for how governments, businesses, and individuals can better manage risk in our contemporary world.

Goldin and Mariathasan assert that the current complexities of globalization will not be sustainable as surprises become more frequent and have widespread impacts. The recent financial crisis exemplifies the new form of systemic risk that will characterize the coming decades, and the authors provide the first framework for understanding how such risk will function in the twenty-first century. Goldin and Mariathasan demonstrate that systemic risk issues are now endemic everywhere--in supply chains, pandemics, infrastructure, ecology and climate change, economics, and politics. Unless we are better able to address these concerns, they will lead to greater protectionism, xenophobia, nationalism, and, inevitably, deglobalization, rising conflict, and slower growth.

 

 

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Complexity in Economics: Cutting Edge Research (edited by Marisa Faggini & Anna Parziale)

Complexity in Economics: Cutting Edge Research (New Economic Windows)

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In this book, leading experts discuss innovative components of complexity theory and chaos theory in economics.

The underlying perspective is that investigations of economic phenomena should view these phenomena not as deterministic, predictable and mechanistic but rather as process dependent, organic and always evolving.

The aim is to highlight the exciting potential of this approach in economics and its ability to overcome the limitations of past research and offer important new insights. The book offers a stimulating mix of theory, examples and policy.

By casting light on a variety of topics in the field, it will provide an ideal platform for researchers wishing to deepen their understanding and identify areas for further investigation.

 

 

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Artificial Life 14

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ALIFE 14, the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, presents the current state of the art of Artificial Life—the highly interdisciplinary research area on artificially constructed living systems, including mathematical, computational, robotic, and biochemical ones. The understanding and application of such generalized forms of life, or “life as it could be,” have been producing significant contributions to various fields of science and engineering.
This volume contains papers that were accepted through rigorous peer reviews for presentations at the ALIFE 14 conference. The topics covered in this volume include: Evolutionary Dynamics; Artificial Evolutionary Ecosystems; Robot and Agent Behavior; Soft Robotics and Morphologies; Collective Robotics; Collective Behaviors; Social Dynamics and Evolution; Boolean Networks, Neural Networks and Machine Learning; Artificial Chemistries, Cellular Automata and Self-Organizing Systems; In-Vitro and In-Vivo Systems; Evolutionary Art, Philosophy and Entertainment; and Methodologies.


Artificial Life 14

Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems

Edited by Hiroki Sayama, John Rieffel, Sebastian Risi, René Doursat and Hod Lipson

http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/artificial-life-14

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ComplexInsight's curator insight, July 10, 10:30 PM

I remember reading the first one of these and my imagination being captured by Chris Langton's introduction. Look forward to reading this one.

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Toward Analytical Chaos in Nonlinear Systems (by Albert C. J. Luo)

Exact analytical solutions to periodic motions in nonlinear dynamical systems are almost not possible. Since the 18th century, one has extensively used techniques such as perturbation methods to obtain approximate analytical solutions of periodic motions in nonlinear systems. However, the perturbation methods cannot provide the enough accuracy of analytical solutions of periodic motions in nonlinear dynamical systems. So the bifurcation trees of periodic motions to chaos cannot be achieved analytically.  The author has developed an analytical technique that is more effective to achieve periodic motions and corresponding bifurcation trees to chaos analytically.

Toward Analytical Chaos in Nonlinear Systems systematically presents a new approach to analytically determine periodic flows to chaos or quasi-periodic flows in nonlinear dynamical systems with/without time-delay.  It covers the mathematical theory and includes two examples of nonlinear systems with/without time-delay in engineering and physics. From the analytical solutions, the routes from periodic motions to chaos are developed analytically rather than the incomplete numerical routes to chaos.  The analytical techniques presented will provide a better understanding of regularity and complexity of periodic motions and chaos in nonlinear dynamical systems.

 

 

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Chaotic Harmony: A Dialog about Physics, Complexity and Life (by Ali Sanayei & Otto E. Rössler)

This fascinating book written by Ali Sanayei and Otto E. Rössler is not a classic scientific publication, but a vivid dialogue on science, philosophy and  the interdisciplinary intersections of science and technology with biographic elements. Chaotic Harmony: A Dialog about Physics, Complexity and Life represents a discussion between Otto Rössler and his colleague and student, focusing on the different areas of science and highlights their mutual relations. The book's concept of interdisciplinary dialogue is  unusual nowadays although it has a long tradition in science. It provides insight not only into interesting topics that are often closely linked, but also into the mind of a prominent scientist in the field of physics, chaos and complexity in general. It allows a deep look into the fascinating process of scientific development and discovery and provides a very interesting background of known and unknown facts in the areas of complex processes in physics, cosmology, biology, brains and systems in general. This book will be valuable to all who are interested in science, its evolution and in an unconventional and original look at various issues. Surely it can serve as an inspiration for students, explaining the often overlooked fact that science and philosophy enrich each other.

 

 

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Thinking Big: How the Evolution of Social Life Shaped the Human Mind (by Robin Dunbar et al.)

Thinking Big: How the Evolution of Social Life Shaped the Human Mind

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A closer look at genealogy, incorporating how biological, anthropological, and technical factors can influence human lives

We are at a pivotal moment in understanding our remote ancestry and its implications for how we live today. The barriers to what we can know about our distant relatives have been falling as a result of scientific advance, such as decoding the genomes of humans and Neanderthals, and bringing together different perspectives to answer common questions. These collaborations have brought new knowledge and suggested fresh concepts to examine. The results have shaken the old certainties.

The results are profound; not just for the study of the past but for appreciating why we conduct our social lives in ways, and at scales, that are familiar to all of us. But such basic familiarity raises a dilemma. When surrounded by the myriad technical and cultural innovations that support our global, urbanized lifestyles we can lose sight of the small social worlds we actually inhabit and that can be traced deep into our ancestry. So why do we need art, religion, music, kinship, myths, and all the other facets of our over-active imaginations if the reality of our effective social worlds is set by a limit of some one hundred and fifty partners (Dunbar’s number) made of family, friends, and useful acquaintances? How could such a social community lead to a city the size of London or a country as large as China? Do we really carry our hominin past into our human present? It is these small worlds, and the link they allow to the study of the past that forms the central point in this book.

 

 

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Book of Extremes: Why the 21st Century Isn't Like the 20th Century (by Ted G. Lewis)

Book of Extremes: Why the 21st Century Isn't Like the 20th Century

~ Ted G. Lewis (author) More about this product
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What makes the 21st century different from the 20th century? This century is the century of extremes -- political, economic, social, and global black-swan events happening with increasing frequency and severity. Book of Extremes is a tour of the current reality as seen through the lens of complexity theory – the only theory capable of explaining why the Arab Spring happened and why it will happen again; why social networks in the virtual world behave like flashmobs in the physical world; why financial bubbles blow up in our faces and will grow and burst again; why the rich get richer and will continue to get richer regardless of governmental policies; why the future of economic wealth and national power lies in comparative advantage and global trade; why natural disasters will continue to get bigger and happen more frequently; and why the Internet – invented by the US -- is headed for a global monopoly controlled by a non-US corporation. It is also about the extreme innovations and heroic innovators yet to be discovered and recognized over the next 100 years.Complexity theory combines the predictable with the unpredictable. It assumes a nonlinear world of long-tailed distributions instead of the classical linear world of normal distributions. In the complex 21st century, almost nothing is linear or normal. Instead, the world is highly connected, conditional, nonlinear, fractal, and punctuated. Life in the 21st century is a long-tailed random walk – Levy walks -- through extreme events of unprecedented impact. It is an exciting time to be alive.

 

 

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Language and Wallace's problem

Alfred Russel Wallace, who with Darwin gave us the foundations of evolutionary theory, despaired of the power of natural selection to explain the intellectual and technological prowess of humans: “Natural selection could only have endowed the savage with a brain a little superior to that of an ape,” he noted (1), pointing to intellectual, linguistic, and technological capabilities way beyond what would seem required for survival. What kind of improbable course of events yielded this excess of competences? In his wide-ranging More Than Nature Needs, Derek Bickerton takes this problem as the starting point for a novel inquiry into the evolution of language.


Language and Wallace's problem
Stephen Levinson

Vol. 344 no. 6191 pp. 1458-1459
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1252988


Review of:

  • More Than Nature Needs Language, Mind, and Evolution Derek Bickerton Harvard University Press, 2014. 334 pp.
  • A Natural History of Human Thinking Michael Tomasello Harvard University Press, 2014 192 pp.
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Reductionism, Emergence and Levels of Reality: The Importance of Being Borderline (by Sergio Chibbaro et al.)

Reductionism, Emergence and Levels of Reality: The Importance of Being Borderline

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Scientists have always attempted to explain the world in terms of a few unifying principles. In the fifth century B.C. Democritus boldly claimed that reality is simply a collection of indivisible and eternal parts or atoms. Over the centuries his doctrine has remained a landmark, and much progress in physics is due to its distinction between subjective perception and objective reality. This book discusses theory reduction in physics, which states that the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts: the properties of things are directly determined by their constituent parts. Reductionism deals with the relation between different theories that address different levels of reality, and uses extrapolations to apply that relation in different sciences. Reality shows a complex structure of connections, and the dream of a unified interpretation of all phenomena in several simple laws continues to attract anyone with genuine philosophical and scientific interests. If the most radical reductionist point of view is correct, the relationship between disciplines is strictly inclusive: chemistry becomes physics, biology becomes chemistry, and so on. Eventually, only one science, indeed just a single theory, would survive, with all others merging in the Theory of Everything. Is the current coexistence of different sciences a mere historical venture which will end when the Theory of Everything has been established? Can there be a unified description of nature?
Rather than an analysis of full reductionism, this book focuses on aspects of theory reduction in physics and stimulates reflection on related questions: is there any evidence of actual reduction? Are the examples used in the philosophy of science too simplistic? What has been endangered by the search for (the) ultimate truth? Has the dream of reductionist reason created any monsters? Is big science one such monster? What is the point of embedding science Y within science X, if predictions cannot be made on that basis?

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Scientific Objectivity and Its Contexts (by Evandro Agazzi)

Scientific Objectivity and Its Contexts

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The first part of this book is of an epistemological nature and develops an original theory of scientific objectivity, understood in a weak sense (as intersubjective agreement among the specialists) and a strong sense (as having precise concrete referents). In both cases it relies upon the adoption of operational criteria designed within the particular perspective under which any single science considers reality. The “object” so attained has a proper ontological status, dependent on the specific character of the criteria of reference (regional ontologies). This justifies a form of scientific realism. Such perspectives are also the result of a complex cultural-historical situation. The awareness of such a “historical determinacy” of science justifies including in the philosophy of science the problems of ethics of science, relations of science with metaphysics and social dimensions of science that overstep the traditional restriction of the philosophy of science to an epistemology of science. It is to this “context” that the second part of the book is devoted.

 

 

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Nonlinear Dynamics and Quantum Chaos: An Introduction (by Sandro Wimberger)

Nonlinear Dynamics and Quantum Chaos: An Introduction (Graduate Texts in Physics)

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The field of nonlinear dynamics and chaos has grown very much over the last few decades and is becoming more and more relevant in different disciplines. This book presents a clear and concise introduction to the field of nonlinear dynamics and chaos, suitable for graduate students in mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and in natural sciences in general. It provides a thorough and modern introduction to the concepts of Hamiltonian dynamical systems' theory combining in a comprehensive way classical and quantum mechanical description. It covers a wide range of topics usually not found in similar books. Motivations of the respective subjects and a clear presentation eases the understanding. The book is based on lectures on classical and quantum chaos held by the author at Heidelberg University. It contains exercises and worked examples, which makes it ideal for an introductory course for students as well as for researchers starting to work in the field.

 

 

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The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life (by Alex Bellos)

The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life

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From the bestselling author of Here’s Looking at Euclid, a dazzling new book that turns even the most complex math into a brilliantly entertaining narrative.
From triangles, rotations and power laws, to cones, curves and the dreaded calculus, Alex takes you on a journey of mathematical discovery with his signature wit and limitless enthusiasm. He sifts through over 30,000 survey submissions to uncover the world’s favourite number, and meets a mathematician who looks for universes in his garage. He attends the World Mathematical Congress in India, and visits the engineer who designed the first roller-coaster loop.
Get hooked on math as Alex delves deep into humankind’s turbulent relationship with numbers, and reveals how they have shaped the world we live in.

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Zoom: How Everything Moves: From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees (by Bob Berman)

Zoom: How Everything Moves: From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees

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From the speed of light to moving mountains--and everything in between--ZOOM explores how the universe and its objects move.

If you sit as still as you can in a quiet room, you might be able to convince yourself that nothing is moving. But air currents are still wafting around you. Blood rushes through your veins. The atoms in your chair jiggle furiously. In fact, the planet you are sitting on is whizzing through space thirty-five times faster than the speed of sound.

Natural motion dominates our lives and the intricate mechanics of the world around us. In ZOOM, Bob Berman explores how motion shapes every aspect of the universe, literally from the ground up. With an entertaining style and a gift for distilling the wondrous, Berman spans astronomy, geology, biology, meteorology, and the history of science, uncovering how clouds stay aloft, how the Earth's rotation curves a home run's flight, and why a mosquito's familiar whine resembles a telephone's dial tone.

 

 

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The Custom-Made Brain: Cerebral Plasticity, Regeneration, and Enhancement (by Jean-Didier Vincent & Pierre-Marie Lledo)

The Custom-Made Brain: Cerebral Plasticity, Regeneration, and Enhancement

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Two leading neuroscientists introduce the concepts of "cerebral plasticity" and the "regenerating brain," describing what we know now about the processes through which the brain constantly reconstructs itself and the potential benefits this knowledge could have in addressing concerns for neurological, cognitive, and emotional health.

The authors begin with a survey of the fundamental scientific developments that led to our current understanding of the regenerative mind, elucidating the breakthrough neurobiological studies that paved the way for our present understanding of the brain's plasticity and regenerative capabilities. They then discuss the application of these findings to such issues as depression, dyslexia, schizophrenia, and cognitive therapy, incorporating the latest technologies in neuroimaging, optogenetics, and nanotechnology. Their work shows the brain is anything but a static organ, ceasing to grow as human beings become adults. Rather, the brain is dynamic, evolving organically in relation to physical, cultural, historical, and affective stimuli, a plasticity that provides early hope to survivors of trauma and degenerative disorders.

 

 

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Complexity Science and World Affairs (by Walter C. Clemens Jr.)

Complexity Science and World Affairs (Suny Series, James N. Rosenau Series in Global Politics)

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Applies complexity science to the study of international politics. Why did some countries transition peacefully from communist rule to political freedom and market economies, while others did not? Why did the United States enjoy a brief moment as the sole remaining superpower, and then lose power and influence across the board? What are the prospects for China, the main challenger to American hegemony? In Complexity Science and World Affairs, Walter C. Clemens Jr. demonstrates how the basic concepts of complexity science can broaden and deepen the insights gained by other approaches to the study of world affairs. He argues that societal fitness—the ability of a social system to cope with complex challenges and opportunities—hinges heavily on the values and way of life of each society, and serves to explain why some societies gain and others lose. Applying theory to several rich case studies, including political developments across post–Soviet Eurasia and the United States, Clemens shows that complexity science offers a powerful set of tools for advancing the study of international relations, comparative government, and, more broadly, the social sciences.

 

 

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Frontiers in Ecology Evolution and Complexity

Frontiers in Ecology Evolution and Complexity | CxBooks | Scoop.it

Advances in molecular biology, remote sensing, systems biology, bioinformatics, non-linear science, the physics of complex systems and other fields have rendered a great amount of data that remain to be integrated into models and theories that are capable of accounting for the complexity of ecological systems and the evolutionary dynamics of life. It is thus necessary to provide a solid basis to discuss and reflect on these and other challenges both at the local and global scales. This volume aims to delineate an integrative and interdisciplinary view that suggests new avenues in research and teaching, critically discusses the scope of the diverse methods in the study of complex systems, and points at key open questions. Finally, this book will provide students and specialists with a collection of high quality open access essays that will contribute to integrate Ecology, Evolution and Complexity in the context of basic research and in the field of Sustainability Sciences


Frontiers in Ecology, Evolution and Complexity
Editors: Mariana Benítez, Octavio Miramontes and Alfonso Valiente-Banuet
Prologue by Stuart A. Kauffman
http://scifunam.fisica.unam.mx/mir/copit/TS0012EN/TS0012EN.html 

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june holley's curator insight, July 9, 5:10 AM

Downloadable book.

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Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur (by Tom Lancaster & Stephen J. Blundell)

Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur

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Quantum field theory is arguably the most far-reaching and beautiful physical theory ever constructed, with aspects more stringently tested and verified to greater precision than any other theory in physics. Unfortunately, the subject has gained a notorious reputation for difficulty, with forbidding looking mathematics and a peculiar diagrammatic language described in an array of unforgiving, weighty textbooks aimed firmly at aspiring professionals. However, quantum field theory is too important, too beautiful, and too engaging to be restricted to the professionals. This book on quantum field theory is designed to be different. It is written by experimental physicists and aims to provide the interested amateur with a bridge from undergraduate physics to quantum field theory. The imagined reader is a gifted amateur, possessing a curious and adaptable mind, looking to be told an entertaining and intellectually stimulating story, but who will not feel patronised if a few mathematical niceties are spelled out in detail. Using numerous worked examples, diagrams, and careful physically motivated explanations, this book will smooth the path towards understanding the radically different and revolutionary view of the physical world that quantum field theory provides, and which all physicists should have the opportunity to experience.

 

 

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Cellular Automata in Image Processing and Geometry (Emergence, Complexity and Computation) (edited by Paul Rosin et al.)

The book presents findings, views and ideas on what exact problems of image processing, pattern recognition and generation can be efficiently solved by cellular automata architectures. This volume provides a convenient collection in this area, in which publications are otherwise widely scattered throughout the literature. The topics covered include image compression and resizing; skeletonization, erosion and dilation; convex hull computation, edge detection and segmentation; forgery detection and content based retrieval; and pattern generation.

The book advances the theory of image processing, pattern recognition and generation as well as the design of efficient algorithms and hardware for parallel image processing and analysis. It is aimed at computer scientists, software programmers, electronic engineers, mathematicians and physicists, and at everyone who studies or develops cellular automaton algorithms and tools for image processing and analysis, or develops novel architectures and implementations of massive parallel computing devices.

The book will provide attractive reading for a general audience because it has do-it-yourself appeal: all the computer experiments presented within it can be implemented with minimal knowledge of programming. The simplicity yet substantial functionality of the cellular automaton approach, and the transparency of the algorithms proposed, makes the text ideal supplementary reading for courses on image processing, parallel computing, automata theory and applications.

 

 

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Managing Complexity, Reducing Perplexity: Modeling Biological Systems (edited by Marcello Delitala & Giulia Ajmone Marsan)

This book is devoted to an overview of the status of the art in the study of complex systems, with particular focus on the analysis of systems pertaining to living matter. Both senior scientists and young researchers from diverse and prestigious institutions with a deliberately interdisciplinary cut were invited, in order to compare approaches and problems from different disciplines. The common aim of the contributions is to analyze the complexity of living systems by means of new mathematical paradigms that are more adherent to reality and which are able to generate both exploratory and predictive models that are capable of achieving a deeper insight into life science phenomena.

 

 

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Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaotic Phenomena: An Introduction (by Bhimsen K. Shivamoggi)

Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaotic Phenomena: An Introduction (Fluid Mechanics and Its Applications)

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This book starts with a discussion of nonlinear ordinary differential equations, bifurcation theory and Hamiltonian dynamics. It then embarks on a systematic discussion of the traditional topics of modern nonlinear dynamics  -- integrable systems, Poincaré maps, chaos, fractals and strange attractors. The Baker’s transformation, the logistic map and Lorenz system are discussed in detail in view of their central place in the subject. There is a detailed discussion of solitons centered around the Korteweg-deVries equation in view of its central place in integrable systems. Then, there is a discussion of the Painlevé property of nonlinear differential equations which seems to provide a test of integrability. Finally, there is a detailed discussion of the application of fractals and multi-fractals to fully-developed turbulence -- a problem whose understanding has been considerably enriched by the application of the concepts and methods of modern nonlinear dynamics. On the application side, there is a special emphasis on some aspects of fluid dynamics and plasma physics reflecting the author’s involvement in these areas of physics. A few exercises have been provided that range from simple applications to occasional considerable extension of the theory. Finally, the list of references given at the end of the book contains primarily books and papers used in developing the lecture material this volume is based on. This second edition constitutes an extensive rewrite of the text involving refinement and enhancement of the clarity and precision, updating and amplification of several sections, addition of new material like theory of nonlinear differential equations, solitons, Lagrangian chaos in fluids, and critical phenomena perspectives on the fluid turbulence problem and many new exercises.

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Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics (by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta)

Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics

~ Ignacio Palacios-Huerta (author) More about this product
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A wealth of research in recent decades has seen the economic approach to human behavior extended over many areas previously considered to belong to sociology, political science, law, and other fields. Research has also shown that economics can provide insight into many aspects of sports, including soccer. Beautiful Game Theory is the first book that uses soccer to test economic theories and document novel human behavior.

In this brilliant and entertaining book, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta illuminates economics through the world's most popular sport. He offers unique and often startling insights into game theory and microeconomics, covering topics such as mixed strategies, discrimination, incentives, and human preferences. He also looks at finance, experimental economics, behavioral economics, and neuroeconomics. Soccer provides rich data sets and environments that shed light on universal economic principles in interesting and useful ways.

Essential reading for students, researchers, and sports enthusiasts, Beautiful Game Theory is the first book to show what soccer can do for economics.

 

 

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Brain, Mind and Consciousness in the History of Neuroscience (by C.U.M. Smith and Harry Whitaker)

This volume of essays examines the problem of mind, looking at how the problem has appeared to neuroscientists (in the widest sense) from classical antiquity through to contemporary times. Beginning with a look at ventricular neuropsychology in antiquity, this book goes on to look at Spinozan ideas on the links between mind and body, Thomas Willis and the foundation of Neurology, Hooke’s mechanical model of the mind and Joseph Priestley’s approach to the mind-body problem.

The volume offers a chapter on the 19th century Ottoman perspective on western thinking. Further chapters trace the work of nineteenth century scholars including George Henry Lewes, Herbert Spencer and Emil du Bois-Reymond. The book covers significant work from the twentieth century, including an examination of Alfred North Whitehead and the history of consciousness, and particular attention is given to the development of quantum consciousness. Chapters on slavery and the self and the development of an understanding of Dualism bring this examination up to date on the latest 21st century work in the field.

At the heart of this book is the matter of how we define the problem of consciousness itself: has there been any progress in our understanding of the working of mind and brain? This work at the interface between science and the humanities will appeal to experts from across many fields who wish to develop their understanding of the problem of consciousness, including scholars of Neuroscience, Behavioural Science and the History of Science.

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The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning (by Marcelo Gleiser)

The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning

~ Marcelo Gleiser (author) More about this product
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Do all questions have answers? How much can we know about the world? Is there such a thing as an ultimate truth?

To be human is to want to know, but what we are able to observe is only a tiny portion of what’s “out there.” In The Island of Knowledge, physicist Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of existence. In so doing, he reaches a provocative conclusion: science, the main tool we use to find answers, is fundamentally limited.

These limits to our knowledge arise both from our tools of exploration and from the nature of physical reality: the speed of light, the uncertainty principle, the impossibility of seeing beyond the cosmic horizon, the incompleteness theorem, and our own limitations as an intelligent species. Recognizing limits in this way, Gleiser argues, is not a deterrent to progress or a surrendering to religion. Rather, it frees us to question the meaning and nature of the universe while affirming the central role of life and ourselves in it. Science can and must go on, but recognizing its limits reveals its true mission: to know the universe is to know ourselves.

Telling the dramatic story of our quest for understanding, The Island of Knowledge offers a highly original exploration of the ideas of some of the greatest thinkers in history, from Plato to Einstein, and how they affect us today. An authoritative, broad-ranging intellectual history of our search for knowledge and meaning, The Island of Knowledge is a unique view of what it means to be human in a universe filled with mystery.

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Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age (by Alex Wright)

Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age

~ Alex Wright (author) More about this product
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The dream of capturing and organizing knowledge is as old as history. From the archives of ancient Sumeria and the Library of Alexandria to the Library of Congress and Wikipedia, humanity has wrestled with the problem of harnessing its intellectual output. The timeless quest for wisdom has been as much about information storage and retrieval as creative genius.

In Cataloging the World, Alex Wright introduces us to a figure who stands out in the long line of thinkers and idealists who devoted themselves to the task. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Paul Otlet, a librarian by training, worked at expanding the potential of the catalog card, the world's first information chip. From there followed universal libraries and museums, connecting his native Belgium to the world by means of a vast intellectual enterprise that attempted to organize and code everything ever published. Forty years before the first personal computer and fifty years before the first browser, Otlet envisioned a network of "electric telescopes" that would allow people everywhere to search through books, newspapers, photographs, and recordings, all linked together in what he termed, in 1934, a réseau mondial--essentially, a worldwide web.

Otlet's life achievement was the construction of the Mundaneum--a mechanical collective brain that would house and disseminate everything ever committed to paper. Filled with analog machines such as telegraphs and sorters, the Mundaneum--what some have called a "Steampunk version of hypertext"--was the embodiment of Otlet's ambitions. It was also short-lived. By the time the Nazis, who were pilfering libraries across Europe to collect information they thought useful, carted away Otlet's collection in 1940, the dream had ended. Broken, Otlet died in 1944.

Wright's engaging intellectual history gives Otlet his due, restoring him to his proper place in the long continuum of visionaries and pioneers who have struggled to classify knowledge, from H.G. Wells and Melvil Dewey to Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson, Tim Berners-Lee, and Steve Jobs. Wright shows that in the years since Otlet's death the world has witnessed the emergence of a global network that has proved him right about the possibilities--and the perils--of networked information, and his legacy persists in our digital world today, captured for all time.

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