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Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos 2nd Edition
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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"For those who have even rudimentary mathematical knowledge, for teachers and for lively-minded school and university students, Stewart give a valuable insight into the innards of chaos" (The Times Higher Education Supplement)
"A fine introduction to a complex subject" (Daily Telegraph)
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0631232516
- ISBN-13 : 978-0631232513
- Product Dimensions : 5.48 x 1.18 x 8.52 inches
- Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell; 2nd Edition (February 26, 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #573,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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He begins with the Greeks, Eudoxus, Ptolemy, and others and moves through time to Copernicus, Kepler, and Galilei showing how the foundations of mathematics were developed. Later we learn of the works of Euler, Lagrange and his generalized coordinates, Hamilton's work on the state of dynamical systems, and Galton's contributions to the normal distribution. As the 20th century came to a close, statistical methodology took its place alongside deterministic modeling as an equal partner.
By chapter six, we are into strange attractors and flows in a plane such as sinks, sources, saddles, and limit cycles. Then there is quasiperiodicity, suspensions, solenoids, and Poincaré sections which can give us interesting pictures of the dynamical behavior. Any text on chaos is, of course, going to cover logistic mapping and bifurcation diagrams, as well - so does Steward. Chapter ten introduces Mitchell Feigenbaum and the Feigenvalue - a value of 4.669 - the rate at which successive period doublings accumulate faster and faster. Chapter eleven gets into fractals, Julia sets and the infamous Mandelbrot set.
I found chapter sixteen very interesting. I'll just quote Steward here, "The central thrust of the chapter is the possibility of changing the theoretical framework of quantum mechanics altogether, replacing quantum uncertainty by deterministic chaos as Einstein would have liked." As Steward delves into concepts such as quanta; wave functions; spin; eigenfunctions; decoherence; the Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen paradox and other concepts, he exposes what he feels are some loopholes in the arguments - all very fascinating. His alternate explanation of "spooky action at a distance" or quantum entanglement eliminates the need for information to travel at speeds exceeding the speed of light. I found his argument convincing - too lengthy to describe here. In the last chapter, the discussion turns to complexity theory and how it relates to chaos.
Steward presents here for us, I feel, an interesting introduction to the world of chaos - the world we live in incidentally. This is an in depth discussion of the subject, but I feel that Steward did a remarkable job of "translating" the obtuse mathematics and concepts to an understandable level for someone not expert in the field. Certainly an excellent book, and I highly recommend it.
By the way, as Steward says in the Epilogue, "If God played dice ... he'd win."
This book covers a variety of subjects that might at first seem unrelated - mathematical history, various chaotic models, weather patterns, applications - but by the end of the book everything comes together to give you a good overall view of the field. This second edition is mainly different from the first in the added three chapters on applications. These chapters cover prediction in chaotic systems, the control of chaotic systems, and then there is a speculative chapter that attempts to explain how the concept of chaos might lead to a new answer to Einstein's famous question which is also the title of this book.
This book requires more imagination and an ability to visualize than a talent for mathematics, and it makes a good introduction to more technical books on the subject such as "Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos" by Strogatz. Of course, that book requires much more in the way of mathematical maturity. This book looks more at the forest, the Strogatz book looks more at the trees.
However, the newest edition in paperback has very very fine print--even with reading glasses! I returned this edition, and am trying again with the older edition in hardback (same ISBN as the library book).
As others have noted, this book does not go into the "deep" mathematics of Chaos. However, the material IS challenging.
Top reviews from other countries
I noticed this was published in 1997. Ian Stewart's writing prose has improved since as some of his later books are polished gems. This one, is not.