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Complexification: Explaining a Paradoxical World Through the Science of Surprise [Hardcover]

John L. Casti
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 15, 1994 0060168889 978-0060168889 1st
A mathematician explores how complexity arises, showing how the universe consists of unpredictable ""dynamical systems"" so subtle that human logic cannot fathom them and laying the groundwork for a ""Science of Surprise."" 30,000 first printing. $30,000 ad/promo. Tour.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Most books on complexity theory promise to lead the epistemological thrill-seeker far out on the limb of theory. Not so Casti ( Searching for Certainty ). He admits early on to a major "surprise" about chaos and other formal systems: that even with artificial intelligence as a new tool, theory cannot capture nature. After an almost old-fashioned undergraduate review of basic concepts of dynamical systems, Casti shows how formal complexity models proceed from the basic "surprises." Always more interested in instructing than in dazzling with sensational and obtuse ideas, Casti steers the reader toward an understanding of the field. He's a good teacher and this is the kind of grounding lay readers should have before they step farther out on a new paradigm.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

John L. Casti received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Southern California in 1970. In 1974, after holding positions at the RAND Corporation and the University of Arizona, he became one of the first research staff members at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, where he stayed until 1986. Since 1992, he has been a professor and resident researcher at the Santa Fe Institute. He is also a professor at the Technical University of Vienna. The author of numerous books, he divides his time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Vienna. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (January 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060168889
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060168889
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,235,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

One of the pioneers of complexity science and systems theory, John L. Casti, Ph.D., is Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, where he heads an initiative on Extreme Events in Human Society. He worked for many years at the Sante Fe Institute and The RAND Corporation, as well as serving on the faculties of Princeton, the University of Arizona, and New York University. A former editor of the journal Complexity, Casti has published nearly 20 volumes of academic and popular science and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Southern California. He lives in Vienna, Austria.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting points, but very uneven. September 27, 1999
By A Customer
While parts of this book were very thought-provoking, too many details were either left out or skimmed over to allow this book to stand alone. For example, the formula the author supplies to calculate the eccentricity of a simplex couldn't possibly produce the results he gives in the adjoining table; some are infinite, and the formula as he states is specifically designed to avoid such results. If you're really interested in catastophe theory or chaos theory, make sure you read this book where you have other reference materials on hand.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Does not promote understanding November 8, 2013
It's hard to imagine who is the intended audience of this book. He skips over most of the math, but he still tells the reader mathematical conclusions. Things like "From this it can be shown that [some coefficient he doesn't really explain] is generally strongly positive in the presence of chaos." I'm just not sure how useful it is to me to tell me that a test for chaos exists but not explain to me, even conceptually, what the test does or why it works. I think there's some smart stuff in there, but it's too well hidden to be useful. The only reason I got as far as I did was because I was already familiar with a lot of the examples from Chaos: Making a New Science. The examples in Complexification were almost impossible to follow without prior familiarity with the models.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to some complex ideas April 29, 2002
I found this to be an easy to read introduction to current hot topics in science and math. Catastrophe theory, Complexity, Chaos, and emergence. There is also an excellent listing of resources with commentary in the back of the book, called, "to dig deeper". I am an engineer with an MBA, so found a number of the examples very interesting. For the curious, (or less technically adept), this is very well written. Mr. Casti goes quickly from theory to "real world" examples. His illustrations are also very helpful to understanding the basic principles. Most books on complexity contain way too much math for the average reader, or are very simplistic, "Ubiquity" as an example. I think you will find a nice balance here.
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