March 09, 2010

Hey Leon, whatcha reading?

Finished this

a couple of weeks ago. Very solid introductory overview to complexity as an area of scientific inquiry unto itself. The chapter on computing with particles/cellular automata is worth the price of the book all on its own. This isn't a pop science book, either, there are plenty of equations and in-depth commentary on their application. Interestingly, the book is also something of a defense of complexity as a science, noting the strong-enough (even if not universal) correspondence between the patterns established by complex systems, and the commonality of both emergent behaviors and the manners in which they emerge. As noted by the author; to some extent, modern complexity study is the intellectual sibling to cybernetics, and has faced much of the same criticism.

Having studied cybernetics by other names (as it is practiced and taught these days, with names like "machine learning", "data mining", and "automated reasoning"), this book really helped bridge the gap for me between mechanistic local behaviors and complex unpredictable mass behavior, particularly the manner by which groups of things less complex than a toaster can be made to 'compute' when given the correct set of behavioral rules.

Highly recommended, a stimulating read.

Posted by: leoncaruthers at 11:02 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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