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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192853783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853783
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Leonard Smith's Chaos (part of the Oxford Very Short Introduction series) will give you the clearest (but not too painful idea) of the maths involved... There's a lot packed into this little book, and for such a technical exploration it's surprisingly readable and enjoyable."-- popularscience.co.uk


About the Author


Leonard Smith is a member of the Mathematics Faculty in Oxford and lectues on nonlinear dynamical systems and chaos.

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Customer Reviews

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I found this in an interesting, but difficult read.
Mark Abrams
A very readable introduction for anyone interested in nonlinear dynamics, time series, weather forecasting or climate modelling.
kartenhaus
Covers the topics that I was interested in reading about.
Lloyd Rice

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book starts out promising but, as one goes along, it drifts farther and farther from what an introduction to chaos should be.

In particular, the book turns out to be largely a discussion of modeling and forecasting, with some emphasis on the relevant implications of chaos. Moreover, most of the examples and applications relate to weather and climate, which becomes boring after a while (especially considering the abundance of other options). Smith's bio reveals that this is exactly his specialty, so the book appears to be heavily shaped by his background and interests, rather than what's best for a general audience. As a result, many standard and important topics in chaos theory recieve little or no mention, and I think the book fails as a proper introduction to chaos.

A further problem is that much of Smith's discussion is muddled, especially in the later chapters. It's as though he wants to probe deeply, but can't take time to really spell things out, so he winds up being unclear. This lack of clarity is exacerbated by his bending over backwards to avoid writing out even the simplest equations, which is cumbersome and annoying, not to mention out of place given Smith's efforts to present some fairly sophisticated material.

Considering all of this, I can recommend the book only to people who are particularly interested in modeling, forecasting, and the relevant implications of chaos, especially as this relates to weather and climate. In this context, Smith's discussion of the differences between mathematical, physical, statistical, and philosophical perspectives is particularly insightful and useful.

However, I can't recommend the book for a general audience, and I would definitely recommend against it as a first book on chaos. It's simply too incomplete and unbalanced for that purpose.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Alan D. Gray on October 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
I really struggled in trying to rate this book, as I really want to be fair and equitable in all my reviews. Perhaps it is a very good book and I have "short-changed" it, but I cannot really say because, after reading it, I feel just about as confused and bewildered regarding mathematical chaos as I did before I launched into it. Well, I do not suppose that reading it "hurt" me! But, in my humble opinion, this condensed, compressed "cutting edge" stuff is not for "beginners"!

It seems like I would have a "fighting chance" to readily comprehend the content of this little book, given that I am what many people would call a "well-read" and intelligent person (and I even have a graduate degree with a "minor" in multivariate statistics from a respected university). But no way! I was confused early on in trying to decipher this book on my own. I really needed a patient teacher to hold my hand. Maybe I am basically dense, stupid, below average in IQ, and/or just getting old -- who knows? But, while I endeavored to read this "very short introduction", I found myself thinking that, at least for the average person, it may be possible, but not probable, that they will grasp much of the content beyond perhaps a few vague intuitive notions. Otherwise, I learned a few new impressive words, what a "vole" is, a little about "Olbers' paradox", and that Edgar Allan Poe was seriously interested in cosmology (for example, see his essay entitled, "Eureka").
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Xavier Matos on May 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this topic is too interesting, but it can be easily messed up by bad explanations
this book is an excellent introduction, using clear real world examples and relating them to hardcore mathematical principles beautifully
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Lober on May 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I understand this series is focused on providing an introduction to virtually anyone, but honestly, I doubt many people are reading a book about chaos who aren't at least a little well versed in math. If you already have a basic familiarity with chaos, this is not the novel for you - if you are completely new to the idea and/or a first year college student then go for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Raghuveer Parthasarathy on November 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
While readable and accurate, the book has two main flaws. First, there already exists an excellent book on chaos for the general (non-scientist) reader: Gleick's "Chaos: Making a New Science". Gleick's history of and introduction to the topic are clear and dramatically written, more so than Smith's book. Smith notably attempts to describe more topical and complicated issues related to forecasting and modeling, but these later chapters -- probably deserving a book in themselves -- are a bit rushed and not too tightly related to issues of chaos. It's nice that the author spends time on climate issues, briefly explaining why there's a strong consensus about global warming for example, but it doesn't make for a coherent book on Chaos.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By V. Peck on August 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a required for a class, but I still found it really interesting. If you are into math or science I would recommend it.
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