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Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life (Princeton Studies in Complexity) Paperback – March 25, 2007
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"Shows that computational modeling is slowly beginning to take root in the social sciences." -- Philip Ball, Nature
From the Back Cover
"The use of computational, especially agent-based, models has already shown its value in illuminating the study of economic and other social processes. Miller and Page have written an orientation to this field that is a model of motivation and insight, making clear the underlying thinking and illustrating it by varied and thoughtful examples. It conveys with remarkable clarity the essentials of the complex systems approach to the embarking researcher."--Kenneth J. Arrow, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics
"In Complex Adaptive Systems, two masters of this burgeoning field provide a highly readable and novel restatement of the logic of social interactions, linking individually based micro processes to macrosocial outcomes, ranging from Adam Smith's invisible hand to Thomas Schelling's models of standing ovations. The book combines the vision of a new Santa Fe school of computational, social, and behavioral science with essential 'how to' advice for apprentice modelers."--Samuel Bowles, author of Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, Evolution
"This is a wonderful book that will be read by graduate students, faculty, and policymakers. The authors write in an extraordinarily clear manner about topics that are very technical and difficult for many people. I sat down to begin thumbing through and found myself deeply engaged."--Elinor Ostrom, author of Understanding Institutional Diversity
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The book is a great textbook. Its flow of topics is in the correct order to taking the reader from the problem of why this approach is needed, through talking openly about the widespread criticism of this approach and tries answering it in a logical and intelligent way. It then continues to explaining what is a model and how to construct one and off to some examples that show other important corner stones of the field. I couldn't ask for a better arrangement of such book. The book is relatively easy to follow and can be used as an undergraduate textbook or for researchers who look for a good introduction to the field.
Some minor problems that I stumbled upon while reading are as follow: (1) chapter 5 is extremely important as it tries to discuss the approach's criticism, however the arguments wasn't always convincing. Specifically, I would like to see some examples of problems X that are given to the neoclassical theorists, and see some discussions on their inability to deal with them and how this approach can cope with them. (2) The research problems that are introduced are very simple (as also stated by the authors themselves), I think that another chapter with two or three examples of real problems would make this book more valuable for the more knowledgeable readers (e.g. some of Epstein works). (3) After doing a lot of reading on that topic I am still amazed to find new terminology to similar ideas I think the field will mature and be more comprehensive to newcomers if the terminology will be standardize.
Overall, this book provides a great introduction to the field, easy to follow, great arrangement of topics. Highly recommended.
There is a particular focus on cellular automata models as a means to highlight adaptive agent principles.
The authors show a lot of discipline by keeping each topic tight so that every chapter is relatively meaty. The use of interesting footnotes provides just the right amount of related colour and helps to remind the reader that the authors have a broad experience in the field (as well as a good sense of humour).
Overall a great survey that I will use as a jumping off point back into the primary literature.
There is one thing that I was not pleased. The information provided is too thoretical. Although the provided examples are well articulated they lack real world sense and practical information. I have also read The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life which seems to have more real life examples and more practical information on the subject but reading this book helped me understand the Perfect Swarm better.
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The complex adaptive social systems approach provides many opportunities to explore...Read more