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Laws of the Game : How the Principles of Nature Govern Chance ( Princeton Science Library ) Paperback – March 22, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0691025667 ISBN-10: 0691025665 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (March 22, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691025665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691025667
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fascinating . . . has the character of the deepest sort of discussion among brilliant friends."--The New Yorker

"Remarkable, fascinating, and very profound."--The New York Times Book Review

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Porter on January 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
The content is fantastic, and I'm incredibly glad I purchased this book (actually, it was a gift). I'm only about halfway through, but already have ideas for a few dozen applications I want to implement based on the information contained there. Always a dabbler in game theory, it's nice to have my understanding of it expanded beyond _The Evolution of Cooperation_.

My only complaint is that it is very difficult to read. Translated from the German, it lost something along the way. I find myself rereading sections again and again- and not just because it's a little above my level of expertise but also because the translation is a bit opaque.

That complaint though is minor. Excellent work, and I'm ready to start applying this to software projects.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David J. Aldous on May 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This unique book, co-authored by a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, has (to my taste) two positive and two negative features. In writing about "chance in popular science", any author faces a problem: use words only (thereby being vague) or put in equations (thereby detering many readers). The unique feature of this book is the invention of a selection of games (in the format of beads on a board, with moves affected by die throws) designed to mimic aspects of science models. The point is that "dice and rules" is a good description for scientific modeling involving probability; writing out explicit rules for dice games makes this point very clearly, compared to other popular science books.

As well as brief verbal mentions of some of the usual "chance in popular science" topics (game theory; quantum theory; evolution and population genetics; entropy and thermodynamical equilibrium and Shannon information) they describe a number of much more specific scientific topics, centered around their own expertize in biochemical reactions and structure. These are interesting and less standard topics, and every reader will be rewarded by learning something new.

An apt description of the book's style comes from a New Yorker review: "Fascinating .... has the character of the deepest sort of discussion among brilliant friends". But to my taste this style has two defects. The first: half the book digresses away from their "hard science" expertize to discuss classical (Platonic solids, Goethe, Marxist dialectic) and 1970s-fashionable (Chomsky, Prigogine, catastrophe theory, "limits to economic growth", Popper's 3 worlds and Eccles neurobiology) intellectual theories, without much coherence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. William Plank on June 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book changed my view of things by supplying a logical basis for the relation among particles and giving me a new view of randomness and order. This is one of the most important books I ever read. Read it slowly. Don't worry if you have to read a sentence several times. It is worth it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David A. Mccullough on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Manfred Eigen, the main author, is no dilletante. He has a Nobel Prize in chemistry. The book explains, using diverse examples from all over science, how rules working in a random enviroment create emergent patterns that find themselve a niche. Complexity theory starts here. Lots of graphics. I rate it one of the best books of the 20th century for the general reader with intellectual curiosity.
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Format: Paperback
This book has an interesting approach to areas of discrete mathematics. It uses board games and bead games to illustrate some of the ways in which local rules contribute to global behaviour. People with a background in complexity, cellular automata and agent based modelling will probably really enjoy the first half of the book. Unfortunately, the games were not always well described and the emerging behaviour was often unclear. I felt I needed to program the games to have any chance of really understanding the points the authors were attempting to make. Those without a programming or discrete maths background are unlikely to get anything substantial from this first half. Those with such a background, however, could easily be inspired to explore in many directions.

The second half of the book is simply a mess. It moves into issues such as population growth and music. These issues each have a separate chapter, which are linked only by the fact that mathematics is used for analysis. There is little in the way of conclusion or narrative so it is never clear why these issues are included. Furthermore, the language is awkward so extensive rereading is required and, even then, the points are generally unclear.
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