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Weak Links: The Universal Key to the Stability of Networks and Complex Systems (The Frontiers Collection) Hardcover – April 28, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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"This is an excellent book, which shows the far-reaching consequences of the great variety of weak links. The book has a proper balance between a scientific monograph and a popular approach, and mixes humor with sharp intellect. "Weak Links" is an adventurous, entertainingly eclectic and rich work both for the experts and laymen." (Lászlo-Albert Barabási, Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame, author of the bestseller book, Linked and the 1999 seminal Science paper on the preferential attachment model of scale-free network topology.)

"You have written a very personal, engaging, and unique book that will appeal to readers and get them thinking." (Steve Strogatz, Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, author of Sync and the 1998 seminal Nature paper on small worlds.)

"You have done a great service by making the world of networks understandable and clear. I will use your book in my classes." (Caroline S. Wagner, Center of International Science & Technology Policy, George Washington University, author of several science policy-related books including the an upcoming work on the international collaboration in science)

"This book links an exceptionally large number of areas and gives exciting novel information to both the network experts and the science-orinted general readership." (Tamás Vicsek, Dept. Biological Physics, Eötvös University, author of several network-related Nature papers including a method to determine overlapping network modules)

"This masterpiece should serve as an example how science can be discussed. Entertaining yet thought provoking." (György Buzsáki, Board of Governors Professor, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Rutgers University, a leading expert of neuronal networks)

"You have written a true gem of a book; erudite, humane, funny, accessible and thoroughly fascinating. On every page, I find another delight that makes me smile and leads me down new intellectual paths (weak links again!). Thanks to your thorough footnotes, I can delve as deep as I would like into the professional papers. Outstanding - I wish more books were written this way. I have adopted your book as a textbook for my Science of Networks class, and I will recommend it to anyone who ask without hesitation. You did a great service to pedagogy and to this budding science with this magisterial survey. I really appreciate it and my students will, as well." (Daniel J. Bilar, Computer Science Department, Wellesley College MA, USA)

From the Back Cover

How can our societies be stabilized in a crisis?  Why can we enjoy and understand Shakespeare? Why are fruitflies uniform? How do omnivorous eating habits aid our survival? What makes the Mona Lisa’s smile beautiful? How do women keep our social structures intact? – Could there possibly be a single answer to all these questions? This book shows that the statement: "weak links stabilize complex systems" provides the key to understanding each of these intriguing puzzles, and many others too. The author (recipient of several distinguished science communication prizes) uses weak (low affinity, low probability) interactions as a thread to introduce a vast variety of networks from proteins to economics and ecosystems. Many people, from Nobel Laureates to high-school students have helped to make the book understandable to all interested readers. This unique book and the ideas it develops will have a significant impact on many, seemingly diverse, fields of study.

A very personal, engaging, and unique book that will appeal to readers and get them thinking

Steve Strogatz

An adventurous, entertainingly eclectic and rich work both for experts and laymen

László-Albert Barabási

This masterpiece should serve as an example of how science can be discussed

György Buzsáki

Outstanding - I wish more books were written this way

Daniel J. Bilar

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Product Details

  • Series: The Frontiers Collection
  • Hardcover: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2006 edition (April 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3540311513
  • ISBN-13: 978-3540311515
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,702,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you ever needed another good reason to value your grandmother even more, you'll find the answer in "Weak links".

Structurally, his book starts with an exposition on network theory and

terminology, then the application and discussion of these concepts to

real-life complex systems on many scales and applied to many domains (physical, natural, technological, social). His main point is, as the reviewer noted above, that 'weak' links (weak: additional/removal does not statistically affect the average of some metric) stabilize systems.

The book has thorough footnotes, one can delve as deep as one would like

into the professional papers. In addition, Csermely is an honest scholar - he shows his hands when there is mere speculation (you have to see the book's unique pictograms to appreciate the effects)

After pouring through several alternatives, I have adopted this book as a

textbook for my Science of Networks class (I'm CS fac at an elite US liberal arts school), and I recommend it to anyone without hesitation for a readable, and learned exposition.

I only have two or three caveats from a specialist's point of view: The

phenomenological discovery of power laws in complex systems is not unusual

and may not be evidence of any SF properties. Scale-free is an abused

term, and I wish the controversy about it were explained a bit more. Also, from a modelling point of view, I wish Doyle and Carlson's work on HOT systems were discussed in more depth.

But these are minor points, relatively speaking. This is a gem of a book:

erudite, humane, funny, accessible and thoroughly fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover
It is an intriguing concept.

Weak links, invisible in many networks, are critical to its stability. In this book, Peter Csermely shows that all networks, from the universe to molecules are governed by the same principles. Regardless of the system -- atoms, cells, companies, web pages or countries -- surprisingly, the weak links stabilize each.

Csermely, a professor at Semmelweis University in Budapest, a former Fogarty Fellow at Harvard University, is a molecular chaperones specialist. In 2003, he became fascinated by the concept of affinity -- a network's stabilizing components of must have weak links to the other components. These weak links act as hubs. Attack the hubs; disrupt the network.

Csermely demonstrates the concept hold true in field after field. The professor begins his study with a discussion of the Granovetter study of a job search and then proceeds to describe network dynamics. By chapter four, the reader is ready to be introduced to the concept of weak links as universal stabilizers. Then, the professor conducts a network tour ranging from macromolecules to the planet earth. Finally he ends with a discussion of weak links, stability landscapes and game theory.

Surprisingly, his book is understandable, even to non-academics. It is loaded with gems that can be applied to the reader's networks and relationships.

This is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own. Thankfully, Professor Csermely sent me an advanced copy. It is a unique book that takes a thorough look at an intriguing concept.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've just finished reading "Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks" by Peter Csermely , who is a Professor of Biochemistry at the Semmelweis University of Budapest. The central theme is weak links are the determinants of system stability and diversity. Csermely defines a link "as 'weak', when its addition or removal does not change the mean value of a target measure at a statistically discernible way" (p. 83).

The book is an interesting read if only because its topic matter ranges from network complexity in physical systems, to biological systems, and finally social and cultural systems. Personally I think there are a few longbows drawn, but in fairness Csermely does clearly indicate where he is engaging in speculation. One fascinating discussion was the discourse on pink noise. Pink noise is also known as coloured noise, flicker noise, crackling noise and Barkhausen noise. Seemingly pink noise is present in systems as diverse as solar flares, traffic flows and group decision making, and has a stabilising or relaxing effect. Quoting several scientific sources he postulates that pink noise helps neural synchronisation, which is partly responsible for memory formation. To put it another way if you want to memorise something have Mozart playing in the background rather than bagpipes, because Mozart's music has pink noise properties!

Csermeley's discussion on immunological networks is also interesting. He says an immune system has to solve four problems:

the self/ non-self recognition problem;
the signal to noise problem;
the context problem; and
the response problem.

Now this is interesting because the later three points define the knowledge retrieval problem of a knowledge management system.
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