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Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity (Helix Books) Paperback – September 3, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0201442304 ISBN-10: 0201442302 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Series: Helix Books
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (September 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201442302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201442304
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

A must read for anyone interested in these questions.
William M. Rand
Many books on fashionable current topics like complexity theory and complex adaptive systems are very lively in expressing the potentials of the field.
Todd I. Stark
Yes there are examples, but they are very short compared to other authors on this topic.
yh132

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

176 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Todd I. Stark VINE VOICE on April 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Although the order in "Hidden Order" may seem hidden before you read this book, it won't by the time you finish it.
Many books on fashionable current topics like complexity theory and complex adaptive systems are very lively in expressing the potentials of the field. This one isn't. Most books in these fields are either way over the heads of non-mathematicians, or just recount the story of the origin of the field.
This one is extremely modest and understated, but has the special merit of explaining the basic principles of complex adaptive systems in a way that any attentive reader can understand completely. It doesn't dwell on non-linearity, it just mentions it as one of the important principles that characterizes complex systems.
This stands out as not only an exceptionally clear description of the basic principles with simple understandable examples, but also a surprisingly dull read if you're used to popular accounts rather than texts. Going from the popular accounts of Chaos and Complexity Theory to this is a little like spending months reading Dr. Seuss' charmingly excessive rhymes, and then going back to "See Spot Run."
So it would be easy to miss what is so great about this book, that it actually makes the underlying principles of complex adaptive systems accessible to virtually anyone. Without the fanfare, without the hype, without the flashy graphics, Holland describes step by clear step how agents interacting with each other in certain ways that reflect 7 general principles end up organizing themselves into systems with their own properties.
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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By William M. Rand on March 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Dr. Holland is a truly remarkable person. After creating the study of genetic algorithms he has gone on to further investigate concepts like complex adaptive systems. This book is an amazing look into his mind and an examination of some interesting theories on complexity science. He provides here a proposal for research and lays down a theoretical framework that can be used to examine questions like emergence and agent interaction. A must read for anyone interested in these questions. It is important to remember that this is an introductory text meant to be read by the general public. If you want more detailed looks into Dr. Holland's work I reccomend any number of his articles as well as his landmark treatise Adaption in Natural and Artificial Systems. The monograph that founded the study of genetic algorithms and was a major contribution to the study of evolutionary programming. Overall this book is rich with much insight and has many exciting ideas for possible research.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By yh132 on March 19, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think this is an excellent book for someone interested in constructing complex adaptive systems. It clearly lays out the technical guidelines that you would need. And of course, it was written by the man who originated genetic algorithms!
However, if you are new to the phenomena of complex adaptive systems (CAS) or agent-based models (ABM), this might not be the best intro book for you. This is particularly true if you are wondering what a genetic algorithm is right now. I think you will get the most out of the book if you are already somewhat familiar with CAS and ABM as Holland does not dwell on illustrative examples. (Yes there are examples, but they are very short compared to other authors on this topic.) Because of this, I think this book will be rather dry and technical and non-intuitive for a real newbie. If you have no idea where to begin, try _Growing Artificial Societies_ by Joshua Epstein and Robert Axtell.
One final comment: for excellent in-depth look at the reiterated Prisoner's Dilemna model with genetic algorithms that Holland briefly discusses, read _The Complexity of Cooperation_ by Robert Axelrod. (Axelrod and Holland mention each other in their books.)
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
There are several reasons why you might be reading reviews of Hidden Order: (1) perhaps you're wondering whether to get a book on complexity; or (2) perhaps you've decided that you want such a book, and are wondering whether this is the one for you.
In either case, it's probably best to start by relating the way in which Holland introduces his subject. He does so by remarking on the coherence of systems such as immune systems, ecosystems, and cities, despite the diversity of the agents that inhabit them. He refers to such systems as complex adaptive systems, or cas.
Holland's primary objective is to present, to the general reader, theory to "separate fundamental characteristics [general principles of cas] from fascinating idiosyncrasies and incidental features [of particular cas]" (p. 5). This point is crucial if you're reading this review for reason (2) above, since it distinguishes Hidden Order from several other popular accounts of complexity.
Holland's book is inter-disciplinary, and so contrasts with books such as Kauffman's At Home in the Universe, the main focus of which is on biology. If you're looking for an account of complexity located within a specific discipline, then, Hidden Order is not for you. Neither is for you if, at the same time as reading about complexity theory, you'd like to read about some of the people responsible for the theory. If you'd like biography mixed with your complexity, I'd advise you to try Waldrop's Complexity. Waldrop tells the story, not only of complexity theory, but also of the Sante Fe Institute and some of the people associated with it, including Holland and Kauffman.
Holland describes cas very clearly, making excellent use of examples and figures.
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