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Complexity: A Very Short Introduction: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 24. Juli 2014

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John H. Holland is a leading figure in the field of complexity science who pioneered genetic algorithms. He is Professor of Psychology and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Michigan, and a member of the Board of Trustees and Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute. He is also the author of Emergence (OUP, 1999).


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Format: Taschenbuch
The analysis of complex system has grown rapidly in the last few decades into an important branch of scientific research. It covers the analysis of ecosystems, markets, economies, societies, brain activity, geometrical objects, and many more. Thus, it is a kind of a super-science, that is not limited to a particular set of objects (physical, chemical, or biological etc), but goes across the traditionally established scientific disciplines to uncover the rules underlying the diverse phenomena.

The possibility of such a general science is exciting enough, and one would demand from an introduction to the topic to highlight the commonalities in diverse systems.

This is exactly what John H. Holland in his „Very Short Introduction“ is aiming at. He points out that complexity of systems lacks a rigorous definition (p. 3) – which, in turn, may arguably provide just the flexibility required for such a super-science. Omitting „computational complexity“, Holland’s discussion is focused on complex systems which share the common features of
- self-organization,
- chaotic behaviour,
- unexpected occurance of rare events („fat-tail behavior“)
- adaptive interactions,
- emergence, or non-linearity.

These systems can be distinguished into two general types of complex system: complex physical systems and complex adaptive systems. The former are defined by fixed rules, while the latter consist of agents which over time learn or adapt in interactions with other agents. Holland discusses several areas were complex systems are identified, and how this affects scientific models.
The two final chapters on co-evolution and the formulation of a generalized framework for complexity studies attempt a generalised summary of complexity analysis so far.
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8fbd5cfc) von 5 Sternen 23 Rezensionen
46 von 49 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x8fcd5894) von 5 Sternen Short, but complex 18. August 2014
Von fitzalling - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
I read through this twice. The author writes well and he carefully organizes the material. But, the topic requires close consideration if you plan to absorb much so don't think of this as a light read.

Complexity does not have.a simple definition. The characteristic of emergence is one defining element. Emergence means that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Individual water molecules do not have the quality of "wetness", but a large number of water molecules do have this quality that emerges when a large number of water molecules are brought together.

Complex systems have four qualities. (1) they self-organize; (2) they display chaotic behavior; (3) rare events occur more often than predicted (fat-tailed behavior); and (4) they relatively interact. The book analyzes both complex physical systems and complex adaptive systems. These systems organize themselves in an hierarchical manner with each level operating under its own rules which are independent of, but not contrary to, the rules in lower levels.

The author uses some mathematical formulas, but tries to limit these so the book can be useful to a broader audience. Most of the book focuses on complex adaptive systems, which I found more interesting. Dr. Holland uses a wide range of complex systems from flora and fauna to manufacturing to markets. If you commit to engage the book, I believe that you will be rewarded for doing so. I recommend it.
15 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x8fcd5ae0) von 5 Sternen GOOD, BUT PROMISES TOO MUCH 15. Januar 2015
Von Yehezkel Dror - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
ThIs short introduction well explains the fundamentals of complexity theory and illustrates its usefulness in physical and some biological domains, as well as the Internet and some aspects of ecology -- where partly differential equations apply. It also admits the many unknowns, such as lack of understanding of human consciousness.
Still, from the perspective of my interests in social sciences and historic processes, with emphasis on lookahead and policy making, my conclusion (also from longer books on this subject) is that complexity theory joins the family of high-ambition endeavor which have not supplied what their developers promised. Examples include theory of games, systems theory, and chaos theory. They contribute some important ideas, such as "emergence," and a number of striking though easily misused metaphors, such as "butterfly effects". But they add to understanding of deep social issues much less than, for instance, theories of evolutionary and depth psychology.
Leaving aside minor points, such as underrating the implications of quantum theory (p. 15); and some more important ones, such as neglect of the self-generated behavior of some innovative humans which cannot be explained in terms of interaction with other agents (p. 24), my main disagreement with the book is more fundamental: it tends to promise too much.
The author seems to expect from complexity theory to become a kind of "theory of everything". Thus, he states "The study of CAS [complex adaptive systerms] is still in its earliest stages....Still the pieces that exist do suggest the possibilities of an overarching theory (p. 32). And, again, "Our search...is for a universal language `tuned' to the description of complex systems, particular CAS" (p. 76).
The few generalizations in the book do not increase my confidence in the author's expectations. Thus, the statement "the resilience of a CAD when confronted with `shocks'...generally depends upon inherited persistent characteristics" (p. 79, emphasis in original) seems to me to be both obvious and incorrect. It is obvious, because success in coping with stressors clearly depends on characteristics of actors. And it is incorrect because good coping with stressors also depends on the ability to adjust core characteristics to novel situations.
Therefore, more modesty on the maximum potentials of complexity theory would have added to the sophistication of the book, without belittling the real, though limited, potentials of complexity theory.
To conclude with a comment related to my concerns with upgrading the performance of political leaders, it is hard to envisage significant contributions from complexity theory to understanding the emerging metamorphosis of humanity and coping with it. Therefore, I cannot recommend this book as essential readings for political leaders. But their professional staff should be familiar with the main ideas of complexity theory as well as its limits, so as to apply it heuristically when appropriate.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x8fcd5aa4) von 5 Sternen One of the less accessible "A Very Short Introduction" books, but acceptable 1. Februar 2016
Von BPrev - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I found this to be one of the less accessible "A Very Short Introduction" books that I have read. The author does a good job at laying out the basic concepts, but the discussion varies considerably in its clarity throughout the book.

I felt like the book would have been served better by clearer diagrams; and would suggest that the diagrams included did not, in my opinion, substantially contribute to an understanding of the material. The subject matter--at least when taken at this "A Very Short Introduction" level--seemed to be a good fit for some generalized flow charts to show movement of CAS components (signals, tags, etc...) through the hypothetial complex system. This would provide the reader with a good visual way to digest the structures being described, at least on a superficial level. Instead, the included diagrams appear to be illustrations of specific points that the author does not go out of his way to specifically tie back into the discussion in a meaningful way.

The author generally does a good job of discussing this in a non-mathematical way to make the material accessible to those with less math experience. I would not that he is generally successful in doing this, although there are a few technical digressions that were less approachable. The author also occasionally references other persons in the field without a lot of context for those less familiar to the subject matter.

The other primary difficulty for me was that the author frequently shifts between a handful of example CAS systems to highlight specific talking points, but that the transitions are sometimes jarring. A general audience could benefit from a more hypothetical discussion of the basic structural models that the author is describing with accompanying generalized flowcharts (as mentioned above), and then the author could provide a few concise chapters discussing each example system in order to show how those systems individually demonstrate the overall structure described by the book in addition to highlighting the deviations from that model.

Overall, i think this was a reasonably good attempt to take a difficult subject and present it in a generalized way for a general audience, but that it could benefit from some alternative organizational techniques to assist a reader with no background in the subject matter (which, in my opinion, is the goal of the "A Very Short Introduction" series). I anticipate needing to reread this after having gotten the big picture in a first read-through in order to try to flesh out my understanding of some of the finer points. At 90-ish pages, that isn't the end of the world.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x8fcd5d98) von 5 Sternen Information Entropy 14. August 2015
Von Scott Jackson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This is a decent introduction to complexity. However, I highly recommend that Holland should produce a second edition to this book in which he mentions information entropy, a concept accepted by the general complexity science community. Although information entropy was originally conceived by Shannon as applying to information systems, it is now accepted as applying to all systems.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x8fcd5df8) von 5 Sternen From the father of Complex Systems Research! 22. Oktober 2015
Von mboaj - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
John Holland passed away this summer. I met him once. I read several of his books but I did not know he wrote this introductory book thus I bought it immediately when I saw it. It is really a great introductory book. Loved it.
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