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Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos Paperback – February 26, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0631232513 ISBN-10: 0631232516 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (February 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631232516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631232513
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

We'd better get used to chaos because it certainly isn't going anywhere. Mathematician Ian Stewart--who is also a very talented writer--shares his insights into the history and nature of the highly complex in Does God Play Dice: The New Mathematics of Chaos. While his delightful phrasings will draw in nearly every reader, those with a strong aversion to figures and formulae should understand that it will be slow going. Chaos math suffuses everything from dreaming to the motion of the planets, and Stewart's words can never match the precision of his numbers. Persistence pays off, though; there are so many "aha" moments of insight herein that it almost qualifies as a religious text. The second edition has been partially revised in the wake of 1990s research, and three exciting new chapters report on prediction and other applications of chaos mathematics. --Rob Lightner

Review

"A book well worth reading and a valuable contribution to the literature on chaos" (New Scientist)

"For those who have even rudimentary mathematical knowledge, for teachers and for lively-minded school and university students, Stewart give a valuable insight into the innards of chaos" (The Times Higher Education Supplement)

"A fine introduction to a complex subject" (Daily Telegraph)


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Customer Reviews

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All in all - a book that will make you think about the world in a different way.
T. A. Smedes
I read this book for the overview of the subject and am now going through the Strogatz textbook for the details.
R. Crocker
This book is insightful, clear and provides great analogies to understand chaos theory and it's applications.
Bear

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By henrique fleming on July 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Being a physicist I frequently get bored with "science for the layman" books (for instance, Hawking's "Brief History of Time"). This was not the case with Stewart's "Dice" book. It is very well researched and written, in a style that wisely combines historical information with new discoveries, which are, therefore put into perspective. You can even try your hands in simple calculations with your PC. On the whole, a very balanced exposition, without, thank God!, the usual exageration on the place of chaos in the future of science. A very good place to start.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. Crocker on March 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first edition and purchased the second for the three new chapters. This book is a fun romp through the subject matter, just mathematical enough to get the gist wthout getting bogged down. I read this book for the overview of the subject and am now going through the Strogatz textbook for the details.

One thing to be aware of is that the original books published by Blackwell are preferable to the Penguin reprints. The Penguin books have *much* smaller text and figures.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Arvan Harvat on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This mesmerizing historical overview of nonlinear science, full of seedy ideas and fascinating expositions (from heartbeat to weather forecast) is well worth reading. One of those "aha !" books that will broaden your understanding of the universe (and the rest), it is very "visual" and..well, a friend of mine said she considered it a "mental thriller" since it touches on the great old questions of determinism and predictability. As for "mathematics" in the title- don't be put off. The book is virtually mathless.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Kull on December 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
(1st edition '89) Stewart's book gives the reader as strong a flavor for the constructs of chaos as possible without formulas everywhere. The author makes great use of figures to depict ideas and even gives readers home-projects to test for themselves. Further reading is given (with difficulty levels indicated) for the brave-hearted. Unfortunately, the book is lacking as a reference due to it's vague table of contents and sparse index. But as compared to Mark Ward's "Beyond Chaos", Stewart gives the reader a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Overall good read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
The best mathematical models for many physical events rely on chaotic formulas and the number continues to grow rapidly. It now appears that some exposure to chaos and fractals will be a necessary component of the education of all future applied mathematicians. Given the simplicity of many of the equations, it can be strongly argued that chaos should be an early component of all mathematics education. Also, programming a computer to generate the images is very simple and a lot of fun.
To study chaos, you need a place to start, and this book will point you in the right direction and give you a brisk tail wind. The author, best known for his mathematics columns in Scientific American, writes with exceptional clarity. There are very few equations, as Stewart relies extensively on the verbal explanation. While computer generation is mentioned, only one very short BASIC program is given.
The material is pretty standard for introductory chaos and could serve as a textbook for a non-mathematical course in the subject. It would also be valuable reading for a course in the philosophy of science. Fairly extensive historical backgrounds are given for many of the initial discoveries.
If you have heard about chaos and want to know what all the excitement is about or are looking for reading material for a class you are teaching, this book is an excellent place to explore.
Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Smedes on February 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Although chaos was a hype some years ago, it still is relevant to many branches of the physical and mathematical sciences. For non-mathematicians, like myself, it is quite difficult to get some good, solid, reliable information about what chaos theory is all about. Ian Stewart is that source of reliable information, and if you want to know what chaos is about, read this book first.

Stewart's approach is down-to-earth, leaving all the mystical ideas about the interconnectedness of the universe, behind. However, that does not mean that his writing is dull in any way. On the contrary, one can feel Stewart's enthousiasm for the mathematical weirdness of chaotic systems on every page. And the informal language and many puns make it a delight to read this book.

Stewart describes how chaotic behavior was discovered in the late 1800s but was forgotten for nearly a century. He describes how mathematical chaos relates to chaotic features of the empirical world such as the butterfly effect (quite a difficult subject, but Stewart does a magnificant job here). And he points to some of the ramification of chaos for our thinking about the universe (determinism and all that stuff).

All in all - a book that will make you think about the world in a different way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book for those who are either starting to learn about chaos and nonlinear dynamics or those who would just like an overall view of what the subject is about without getting bogged down into heavy-duty math. This book has two distinct themes. One is to explain the mathematical concept of chaos, and why it is both natural and inevitable. The other is to ask the rather long question "Does the mathematical model of chaos exist in the real world, and does it help us understand some of the things that we see?".

This book covers a variety of subjects that might at first seem unrelated - mathematical history, various chaotic models, weather patterns, applications - but by the end of the book everything comes together to give you a good overall view of the field. This second edition is mainly different from the first in the added three chapters on applications. These chapters cover prediction in chaotic systems, the control of chaotic systems, and then there is a speculative chapter that attempts to explain how the concept of chaos might lead to a new answer to Einstein's famous question which is also the title of this book.

This book requires more imagination and an ability to visualize than a talent for mathematics, and it makes a good introduction to more technical books on the subject such as "Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos" by Strogatz. Of course, that book requires much more in the way of mathematical maturity. This book looks more at the forest, the Strogatz book looks more at the trees.
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