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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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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
Top Customer Reviews
In summary, the authors are handing us an expert summary of literature and developments of a complex field in a concise, fun and delightful read, it would be a shame to miss it.
A stated aim of the book is that of providing a "clear, comprehensive, and accessible account of complex adaptive social systems" for "both academics and the sophisticated lay reader." Insofar as comprehensiveness, the authors deliver. Readers are first offered preliminary discussions on complexity in social worlds, modeling, and emergence, followed by a more detailed treatment of computational modeling as a tool for theory development and of agent-based objects as the recommended means to explore complex adaptive social systems. Then a basic framework of agent-based systems is presented, followed by discussions of unidimensional complexity models and the edge of chaos, social dynamics, evolving automata, and organizational decision making. These topics are largely illustrated with the authors' previously published models. Finally, conclusions are derived regarding the book's central theme: the "interest in between" as it pertains to complex social systems (which tend to fall in between the usual scientific boundaries). Two appendices bring up the rear: an agenda for future research in complex systems and an outline of best practices for computational modeling. The thematic coverage is ample and varied, excellent for a general introductory work on social complexity.Read more ›
A complex system consists of a large population of similar entities (e.g., human individuals) who interact through regularized channels (e.g., networks, markets, social institutions) with significant stochastic elements, without a system of centralized organization and control (i.e., if there is a state, it controls only a fraction of all social interactions, and itself is a complex system). A complex system is adaptive if it evolves through some evolutionary (genetic, cultural, agent-based silicon, or other) process of hereditary reproduction, mutation, and selection.. Characterizing a system as complex adaptive does not explain its operation, and does not solve any problems. However, it suggests that certain modeling tools are likely to be effective that have little use in a non-complex system.
Such novel research tools are needed because a complex adaptive system generally has emergent properties that cannot be analytically derived from its component parts. The stunning success of modern physics and chemistry lies in their ability to avoid or strictly limit emergence. Indeed, the experimental method in natural science is to create highly simplified laboratory conditions, under which modeling becomes analytically tractable. Physics is no more effective than economics or biology in analyzing complex real-world phenomena in situ..Read more ›
Part I begins with simple examples of complexity and depicts how emergence can stem from the interaction of multiple agents acting semi-autonomously using simple rules. The theme is developed that individual agents (actors) form complex systems when they are interdependent in some way and these systems can generate complex and unpredictable behaviors without the benefit of a central controller. This leads to a brief but important discussion of some counter-intuitive characteristics of complex systems. For example, "adding noise to the system may actually enhance the ability of a system to find superior outcomes" (p. 30). Several examples make these ideas easy to understand and provide the groundwork for introducing agent-based modeling in Part II.
In Part II, chapter 4 renders the important construct of "emergence" which is the defining characteristic of complex adaptive systems. The authors offer an excellent definition of emergence as "individual, localized behavior [that] aggregates into global behavior that is, in some sense, disconnected from its origins" (p. 44).
Chapter 5 (Part III) begins the detailed discussion of agent-based modeling and computation as a theoretical approach to understanding complex systems. Agent-based models are said to have the capacity to produce "surprising results" (p. 67) because of the interaction of numerous random and non-linear combinations of variables.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In a short section entitled, Here be dragons, they write this little nostra culpa:
The complex adaptive social systems approach provides many opportunities to explore... Read more
Its a great book and I got it in perfect timing from Amazon! Highly recommended!Published 11 months ago by Martha Alatriste
I read this book because of Elinor Ostrom's endorsement on Amazon. I have great respect for Ostrom's work, but this book was disappointing. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Richard Warner
Excellent book great reading and does explain some system analysis issues relating to the relationship between individual and aggregate influences on the social system.Published on July 14, 2014 by BOB EZEH
I was hooked by a very strong introduction. The authors have great command of the field and they offer a very clear, compelling invitation to the field of complex adaptive systems. Read morePublished on April 21, 2014 by Lawrence LaPointe
I'm starting with CASS and this book really worths the time consumed. The organisation, the terminology and the arguments per si are all correctly set for a beginner. Read morePublished on March 10, 2014 by Vinicius Cardoso
Disappointing. Too much focus on the computaionla models and not enough on "social life". Reading it is like wading through treacle.Published on November 14, 2013 by Stephen Duns
Received the book when promised, in like new conditin. Had plenty of time to read entire contents before class meetings in August.Published on July 17, 2013 by davidw
I found this book to be an excellent introduction to a subject that, despite it’s recent origin, holds the fundamentals for a rational understanding of the phenomena of... Read morePublished on March 25, 2013 by Flavio Riverti