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The Essence Of Chaos (Jessie and John Danz Lectures) Paperback – March 30, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"For the personal glimpses of chaos theory development alone, this book is worthwhile; for a clear, sharp development of the subject, the book is excellent; and for tying humanistic and scientific considerations together so well, there is a major debt owed to Lorenz."―Geophysics

"Lorenz has produced a wonderfully accessible book on the ideas and story of chaos. The book is superbly written providing delightful intellectual entertainment."―Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

"In giving a nontechnical but careful account of the field of dynamical systems and 'chaos,' and setting it in a broader scientific context, Lorenz has .. communicate[d] the nature of the mathematical sciences and how mathematics contributes to society."―SIAM Review

"[A] unique chronicle of the insights of one of the founding fathers of this still burgeoning field."―American Journal of Physics

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Product Details

  • Series: Jessie and John Danz Lectures
  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; Reprint edition (March 30, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295975148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295975146
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Brandon R. Julio (bjulio@aol.com) on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Edward Lorenz takes a complicated topic and makes it accessible for all people, regardless of prior knowledge of chaos theory. He provides interesting and easy to follow examples of chaos, fractals and complexity. The illustrations are helpful and he includes a glossary of terms to aid the beginning chaos enthusiasts to quickly become familiar with the terminology. Mr. Lorenz gives a brief history of chaos and explains how it is used in the study of mathematics, meteorology, economics, music, and other fields. The book is very interesting and is highly recommended for those who would like to acquaint themselves with the exciting world of chaos.
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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Whitfield on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
My first intro to chaos was Gleick's book *Chaos: Making a New Science* which focused on the history of the discovery of chaos. Although this was fascinating - and a good read for those just learning about dynamical systems, strange attractors, and the like - Lorenz's *Essence of Chaos* was much more satisfying. Lorenz analyzes specific chaotic functions, gives you the math (equations are in the appendix) and generally accomplishes what the title suggests - that is, exploring the essence of chaos. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in this deeply fascinating subject.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Intars on October 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Lorenz did a great job when he wrote this book!
The very first time when I heard of chaos theory was year ago while watching some old documentary about Nostadamus. In film was mentioned chaos theory and said that acceptance of it by many people could change whole look to life and so on. Movie left to me questions - what is that theory, what it's standing for.
Finaly my interest lead me to this book and it clearly showed me what kind of staff is that chaos theory! That was and is really intriguing!
Book is well written. There was of course some places that wasn't easy to understand. I myself have studied high math,encountered differential equations but anyway had some difficulties. That's why not 5 stars to book - it's really not for absolutely everyone although almost close to it. I couldn't stop it reading, I was done in two days.
This book encouraged me for further reading.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sturmey Archer on February 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If your interest in Chaos was piqued by Gleick's book on the subject, you may have found it unsatisfying. While it conveyed a enthusiasm for chaos, it only superficially answered questions about what characterizes a chaotic system. "The Essence of Chaos" is a much better book for gaining an understanding of chaos, mainly because it includes a discussion of the mathematics. Both authors strive to avoid mathematics as much as possible, but in the end, I believe Lorenz achieves a better balance. He only touches lightly on the math, but without that, it's impossible to understand what makes a system chaotic. He doesn't quite go so far as to show a practical application of chaos theory, but a clear and concise example of that probably doesn't exist yet. But, he does achieve the goal of demonstrating and examining the fascinating characteristics of a chaotic system.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Leeder on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read several books about Chaos Theory, and having been promised a user-friendly and yet academic book on the subject, this book fell a little short. Certainly academic, not so easy for someone who does not have a solid background in the sciences and mathematics fields. The various sections cover much of the recent research, and if you can get past the equations, you get a more complete sense of the progression in the subject.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lance C. Hibbeler on February 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chaos is not randomness and randomness is not chaos. Ed Lorenz, one of the founding fathers of chaos theory, has produced a book aimed at explaining chaos theory to the public, starting and ending on the same point- common usage has incorrectly rendered "chaotic" and "random" to be synonyms. Randomness implies that there are no equations to govern the evolution of a system, while chaos implies that the system is incredibly sensitive to its initial conditions, but there are equations behind the curtain. A pinball machine, flipping coins, tossing dice, and the global weather are all examples of chaotic systems, despite what your math teachers might have told you. Along the way you get a small dose of the history of the field and the relevant higher-level mathematics.

Lorenz does, I think, a pretty good job of explaining the subject. The more mathematically inclined reader will find all the details and differential equations in the appendix of the book, but for the most part you do not need to have that much of a mathematical background to understand the main points of the book. Sometimes the explanations do get a little hairy, and might require a second read. Lorenz makes analogies with simple systems and everyday occurrences (such as a pinball machine and skiing down moguls) in engaging language mostly free of jargon. I would recommend this book if you are interesting in learning about the basics of chaos theory. I haven't yet read Gleick's famous Chaos: Making a New Science, but this seems like an excellent place to start.
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33 of 45 people found the following review helpful By biru hoover on July 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Lorenz has done it again. This is a terrific inside look at chaos by the man who made Gleick's book possible. And it had a few interesting new ideas too--who would have thought there was a different way to present fourth-order Runge-Kutta? Who would have thought Runge-Kutta could convert a phase-space circle to a nice-looking fractal attractor? A good book for the air plane.
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