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Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos 2nd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631232513
ISBN-10: 0631232516
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

We'd better get used to chaos because it certainly isn't going anywhere. Mathematician Ian Stewart--who is also a very talented writer--shares his insights into the history and nature of the highly complex in Does God Play Dice: The New Mathematics of Chaos. While his delightful phrasings will draw in nearly every reader, those with a strong aversion to figures and formulae should understand that it will be slow going. Chaos math suffuses everything from dreaming to the motion of the planets, and Stewart's words can never match the precision of his numbers. Persistence pays off, though; there are so many "aha" moments of insight herein that it almost qualifies as a religious text. The second edition has been partially revised in the wake of 1990s research, and three exciting new chapters report on prediction and other applications of chaos mathematics. --Rob Lightner

Review

"A book well worth reading and a valuable contribution to the literature on chaos" (New Scientist)

"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)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (February 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631232516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631232513
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Being a physicist I frequently get bored with "science for the layman" books (for instance, Hawking's "Brief History of Time"). This was not the case with Stewart's "Dice" book. It is very well researched and written, in a style that wisely combines historical information with new discoveries, which are, therefore put into perspective. You can even try your hands in simple calculations with your PC. On the whole, a very balanced exposition, without, thank God!, the usual exageration on the place of chaos in the future of science. A very good place to start.
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Format: Paperback
I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first edition and purchased the second for the three new chapters. This book is a fun romp through the subject matter, just mathematical enough to get the gist wthout getting bogged down. I read this book for the overview of the subject and am now going through the Strogatz textbook for the details.

One thing to be aware of is that the original books published by Blackwell are preferable to the Penguin reprints. The Penguin books have *much* smaller text and figures.
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Format: Paperback
This mesmerizing historical overview of nonlinear science, full of seedy ideas and fascinating expositions (from heartbeat to weather forecast) is well worth reading. One of those "aha !" books that will broaden your understanding of the universe (and the rest), it is very "visual" and..well, a friend of mine said she considered it a "mental thriller" since it touches on the great old questions of determinism and predictability. As for "mathematics" in the title- don't be put off. The book is virtually mathless.
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Format: Paperback
(1st edition '89) Stewart's book gives the reader as strong a flavor for the constructs of chaos as possible without formulas everywhere. The author makes great use of figures to depict ideas and even gives readers home-projects to test for themselves. Further reading is given (with difficulty levels indicated) for the brave-hearted. Unfortunately, the book is lacking as a reference due to it's vague table of contents and sparse index. But as compared to Mark Ward's "Beyond Chaos", Stewart gives the reader a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Overall good read.
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Format: Paperback
Although chaos was a hype some years ago, it still is relevant to many branches of the physical and mathematical sciences. For non-mathematicians, like myself, it is quite difficult to get some good, solid, reliable information about what chaos theory is all about. Ian Stewart is that source of reliable information, and if you want to know what chaos is about, read this book first.

Stewart's approach is down-to-earth, leaving all the mystical ideas about the interconnectedness of the universe, behind. However, that does not mean that his writing is dull in any way. On the contrary, one can feel Stewart's enthousiasm for the mathematical weirdness of chaotic systems on every page. And the informal language and many puns make it a delight to read this book.

Stewart describes how chaotic behavior was discovered in the late 1800s but was forgotten for nearly a century. He describes how mathematical chaos relates to chaotic features of the empirical world such as the butterfly effect (quite a difficult subject, but Stewart does a magnificant job here). And he points to some of the ramification of chaos for our thinking about the universe (determinism and all that stuff).

All in all - a book that will make you think about the world in a different way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a college-educated, non-math major, numbers-oriented senior citizen who wanted to find out what Chaos Theory is. I got this book out of my local library to see whether I should purchase it. It reads easily, even entertainingly, so I decided to order it.

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.
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This is the second book I read from Ian Steward. I was looking for another book on the subject of chaos, and having been impressed by a book of his called "The Mathematics of Life," I decided to read this one. I wasn't disappointed.

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.
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