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1. Emergence: The Connected Lives
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2. Inferring Phylogenies
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3. Nonlinear Control Systems : Analysis
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4. Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe
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5. Global Positioning Systems, Inertial
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6. The Structure of Evolutionary
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20. The Ecology of Plants

1. Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
by Steven Johnson
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684868768
Catlog: Book (2002-09-10)
Publisher: Scribner
Sales Rank: 8606
Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description


In the tradition of Being Digital and The Tipping Point, Steven Johnson, acclaimed as a "cultural critic with a poet's heart" (The Village Voice), takes readers on an eye-opening journey through emergence theory and its applications. Explaining why the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its parts, Johnson presents surprising examples of feedback, self-organization, and adaptive learning. How does a lively neighborhood evolve out of a disconnected group of shopkeepers, bartenders, and real estate developers? How does a media event take on a life of its own? How will new software programs create an intelligent World Wide Web?

In the coming years, the power of self-organization -- coupled with the connective technology of the Internet -- will usher in a revolution every bit as significant as the introduction of electricity. Provocative and engaging, Emergence puts you on the front lines of this exciting upheaval in science and thought. ... Read more

Reviews (63)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good introduction, with serious flaws
This book provides a good introduction to the new field of emergence, the study of how complex, apparently "organized" global behaviors arise from the interaction of many autonomous parts operating locally without central control. Steven Johnson explains the principles and brings together many examples from biology (ants, slime molds, neurons) and other areas (games, software, the growth of cities).

Unfortunately, Johnson has not made the effort to study his field thoroughly. He is very familiar with game software (e.g., SimCity), but I was shocked to find no mention of the first analysis of emergent behavior. In his classic "The Wealth of Nations" (1776), Adam Smith coined the term "the invisible hand" to describe the seemingly orchestrated order that emerges from the actions of individuals looking for things they need in a free marketplace. Smith's analysis, by the way, is both detailed and profound--a must for anyone interested in the topic of emergence.

Also, Johnson seems to wander from his central topic at times, for example in the chapter on mind reading.

Despite its gaps and occasional lapses, the book is definitely worth reading. The field is important both socially (do we need a centrally-run society or will the invisible hand work?) and technically. Johnson has done a good job of introducing it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing. Full of lots of provocative concepts.
Emergence: the Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software by Steven Johnson is a compelling argument for higher order emergence from aggregates of lower order units. Like Stuart Kaufman's works on self organizing criticality-though a lot more easily understood than the latter- Johnson's discourse points out that order can be produced from apparent chaos when "rules" are in place and when some critical number of individuals interact with one another following these rules.

Probably one of the more interesting living systems the author discusses is the slime mold, that unique creature whose cells can act autonomously as individuals or collectively as a unified whole. I'd heard of this phenomenon before, but at that time no underlying cause was given. Johnson notes that their inherently human hierarchical point of view had led researchers to look for pacemaker cells that dictated when, where, and under what conditions cells would form a collective. After years of looking, it became obvious that either no such cells existed or they were very subtly distinguished from the others. According to the author, recent research suggests a more bottom up organization, with individual cells making local decisions about the need to collectivize and using pheromone trails to attract others to them.

Interesting too were the descriptions of emergent systems arising unconsciously from human interactions. The reader interested in modern social problems might benefit from the author's discussion of current top down changes in city organization and urban design. The anthropologist or student of mind/brain research might find his discussion of the rise in human awareness and the concept of self through so-called "mind reading" of interest.

For myself, as a student of history, I enjoyed some of his perspectives on the rise of cities, "Cities have a latent purpose as well [as a manifest purpose] to function as information storage and retrieval devices....Ideas and goods flow readily within these clusters, leading to productive cross-pollination, ensuring that good ideas don't die out in rural isolation....And the extraordinary thing again is that this learning emerges without anyone even being aware of it (p. 108-109)."

The changes that have occurred because of the feedback systems of the internet and the cable industry are also intriguing. Although like many people I've surfed the website, received my "suggestions" for potential purchases, expressed my likes and dislikes of the various books I've read, voted for reviewers whose critiques have help my decisions, and in short become part of a community of similarly minded people, I've not thought about the overall impact that this type of system creates as it spreads to other situations. Johnson makes some very interesting points regarding a bottom up movement in politics and the media and the loss of control by hierarchies. Unconnected, the individual makes little difference, but connected to others of like mind by way of the internet and feed back loops, the collective has power to change a great deal.

Probably the most important point Johnson makes is that much of what arises from this higher order emergence is unpredictable. It might be "good" or "bad" from the point of view of a single unit. As with evolution-one of those situations where this type of action is seen-other types of emergence depend upon random decisions and actions of large numbers of individual units, be they ants, software Sims characters, or cities. One can predict that at some critical number of units the system will go through a "phase transition," suddenly becoming something else. Just what else and what impact that change will have on any one individual is impossible to predict.

Intriguing. Full of lots of provocative concepts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible
The best-spent $10 or so of my life. Seriously.
If you are a Software Engineer, or a "Computer Scientist", or you live your life online, you cannot afford to ignore this work, period.
An incredibly lucid, enthralling, and accessible explanation of emergent behavior, swarm intelligence, and self-organizing systems, this book will change the way you think about the Internet, video games, the media, and life, both complex and "simple."
Johnson shows the big picture, where Google fits into the picture, and why Slashdot, Alexa, EBay, and Amazon are significant, in terms of the evolution of the web.
I now truly understand why, while AI is practical (and more pervasive than we realize), artificial sentience is not, and may be impossible altogether. For that matter, I now understand what sentience really is.

If software of any kind is of interest to you (or even if it is not), do yourself a favor and let Mr. Johnson show you where it is headed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Making scientific mountains out of ant hills.
"Call it swarm logic" (p. 74). In his fascinating examination of slime molds, ant colonies, cells, cities, and computer software, Steven Johnson (MIND WIDE OPEN) introduces his reader to the cutting-edge theory of emergence in his 2001 book. He simplifies this complex field of research initiated in the mideighties (p. 85) through example and analogy. Examining ants, for example, Johnson demontrates how these unintelligent insects, "which dominate the planet in a way that makes human populations look like an evolutionary afterthought" (p. 73), organize into complex colonies that adapt in size and behavior to their environment as a single entity, thereby exhibiting a spontaneous and collective intelligence. Johnson then reveals that what connects ant colonies with slime mold, computer games, other living ecologies, the guild system of twelfth-century Florence, cell divisions, and software "is a recurring pattern and shape: a network of self-organization, of disparate agents that unwittingly create a higher-level order" (p. 21). "Just like the clock maker metaphors of the Enlightenment, or the dialectical logic of the nineteenth century," Johnson writes, "the emergent worldview belongs to this moment in time" (p. 56). Although this book may lack depth and detail at times, it is nevertheless an excellent starting point for readers (like me) interested in exploring this revolutionary scientific theory.

G. Merritt

3-0 out of 5 stars The Darwin myth in search of a theory
Comparable to Kevin Kelly's Out of Control, although without that book's honesty in pointing out the limits of Darwin's theory before beginning, this work plies the Great Postdarwinian Hope that complexity theory will come to the rescue of the biology scandal, viz. Darwin's theory doesn't do it. If it did, what would be the point of these books? Much of the material is not without interest, but it is all a fishing expedition, and the minnows won't bite. The problem here is that the higher systems we see in history and culture simply won't yield to reductionist derivatives of current science.
The idea of emergence is a good one. Check out the historical data of the so-called Axial Age. We have emergence right under our noses in world history, all we have to do is study it. But the great taboo is that we can't do that, because we have to stay confused. I guess it is not time for a paradigm shift, and this type of theory junk is the bone du jour for chewing on til when. ... Read more

2. Inferring Phylogenies
by Joseph Felsenstein
list price: $61.95
our price: $61.95
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Asin: 0878931775
Catlog: Book (2003-09-04)
Publisher: Sinauer Associates
Sales Rank: 63088
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Phylogenies (evolutionary trees) are basic to thinking about and analyzing differences between species. Statistical, computational, and algorithmic work on them has been ongoing for four decades, with great advances in understanding. Yet no book has summarized this work until now. Inferring Phylogenies explains clearly the assumptions and logic of making inferences about phylogenies, and using them to make inferences about evolutionary processes. It is an essential text and reference for anyone who wants to understand how phylogenies are reconstructed and how they are used.

As phylogenies are inferred with various kinds of data, this book concentrates on some of the central ones: discretely coded characters, molecular sequences, gene frequencies, and quantitative traits. Also covered are restriction sites, RAPDs, and microsatellites.

Inferring Phylogenies is intended for graduate-level courses, assuming some knowledge of statistics, mathematics (calculus and fundamental matrix algebra), molecular sequences, and quantitative genetics. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars More than what the title implies
As one would expect, the majority of this book deals with the various algorithms for phylogenetic analysis (such as the various versions of parsimony, distance based methods, and likelihood methods), but the book covers more topics that this. In particular, the book covers methods of tree comparison such as the KHT and SH tests, which I found particularly welcome because the current literature covering these tests often are rather opaque to those who haven't followed it since their conception.

The only weak thing about about the book (besides the many typos, which should be fixed in the new printing anyway), is Felsenstein's rather acrimonious treatment of Bayesian methods, in which the Bayesian use of priors is criticized on philosophical grounds.

I was annoyed by this not because I'm a card-carrying Bayesian (which I'm certainly not), but rather because I would have thought that Felsenstein of all people, whose primary opponents in the 1980's were the members of the philosophically-minded Willi Hennig crowd (who always claimed that parsimony was "philosophically right" even when it gave the wrong answer), would realize the futility of arguing scientific issues on philosophical grounds. Bayesian methods, as all scientific methods, will win or lose based on how well they work in practice, despite turgid philosophizing on both sides of the issue.

4-0 out of 5 stars first print
The book I bought is first printing version. Lots of typo inside..... I should correct them myself.-:(

5-0 out of 5 stars The encyclopedia
It's fairly common to start with a few protein or DNA sequences from different species, and to try to figure out what the various lines of descent are that connect them. This book is about the computations that find the "family trees" based on molecular (or other) data.

The book is a goldmine. Among phylogeny programs, PHYLIP (supported since 1980) could well be the most popular - Felsenstein wrote it. In this, he covers an incredible number of techniques, drawn from dozens of fundamentally different insights into the problem of relatedness. Felsentein desribes many techniques, their variations, and their relationships to others. He describes every phase of the analysis, from interpreting raw data, through deducing trees and evaluating them statistically, to displaying them visually. Despite this book's thud factor - ove 600 pages - it can not cover every topic in full detail. That's when the book's references, about 50 pages of them, become valuable. Felsenstein welcomes the interested reader into every aspect of the field's literature.

Despite the huge body of theory and practice, there are still many disputes about the proper interpretations or approaches to some thorny issues. Felsenstein goes over the issues in some detail, and is not afraid to take sides when he sees reason to.

Felsenstein gives clear descriptions of many basic algorithms. There's no code here, but a diligent reader should be able to develop implementations of them. I could have hoped for better indexing of algorithms, but the chapter organization is clear enough to make any search brief. I could also have asked for more of the algorithms to be spelled out in implementable detail, but the book would have needed thousands of pages to include them all. He seems to have chosen a variety of well-known and important algorithms for full description, and left the minor or complex ones for the references.

If you just want to use one of the common phylogeny programs, you came to the wrong place. This is about fundamental techniques for creating programs - there's almost nothing here for the user who just wants the results. Such users won't even learn much more about the results they do get. Developers and statisticians who need detailed analyses will probably find what they they want, and lots more.

The only problem with the book is that it reads like an encyclopedia. Lots of developers can get lots of good work done without this level of knowledge. It will take a truly devoted reader to plow though it, as well as a good foundation in algorithm development and in probability and stats. If you are dedicated to becoming an expert in the practice and problems of phylogenetic analysis, though, I doubt that any other book will give you a third of the knowledge or a tenth of the breadth. ... Read more

3. Nonlinear Control Systems : Analysis and Design
by Horacio J.Marquez
list price: $79.95
our price: $72.75
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Asin: 0471427993
Catlog: Book (2003-04-18)
Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
Sales Rank: 695260
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Book Description

Provides complete coverage of both the Lyapunov and Input-Output stability theories, ina readable, concise manner.
* Supplies an introduction to the popular backstepping approach to nonlinear control design
* Gives a thorough discussion of the concept of input-to-state stability
* Includes a discussion of the fundamentals of feedback linearization and related results.
* Details complete coverage of the fundamentals of dissipative system's theory and its application in the so-called L2gain control prooblem, for the first time in an introductory level textbook.
* Contains a thorough discussion of nonlinear observers, a very important problem, not commonly encountered in textbooksat this level.
... Read more

4. Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe
by Leon M. Lederman, Christopher T. Hill
list price: $29.00
our price: $19.14
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Asin: 1591022428
Catlog: Book (2004-10-31)
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Sales Rank: 9659
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Book Description

"If there is one principle that has guided the spectacular advances in our understanding of the cosmos during the last hundred years, it is the concept of symmetry. In SYMMENTRY AND THE BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE, Leon Lederman and Chris Hill have captured the essence of this simple yet profound concept and conveyed its wonders with art and precision. In accessible and entertaining language, the authors provide readers with a crystal-clear window to physics' most refined theories, allowing us all to appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty of the universe." BRIAN GREENE, Author of THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE and THE FABRIC OF THE COSMOS; Professor of Physics, Columbia University

"Symmetry is the way in to understanding the world; symmetry is part of beauty. Lederman and Hill, the mist skillful of guides, show us the multitude of ways in which the physical world is shaped by symmetry. They take us on a lively tour of our subtle symmetry (and understandably asymmetric) world, from planets to quarks. In Lederman and Hill's book we are led masterfully to an appreciation of the crucial role of symmetry in this world." ROALD HOFFMANN, Nobel Laureate; Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University

"An enigma of twentieth-century physics is the question of symmetry as a guiding principle of nature. Did nature start with the idea of symmetry, or is it an accidental consequence? Is symmetry, with its aesthetic appeal, a fundamental principle? In this penetrating and lucid book the authors, both top physicists, take on symmetry as a basic principle. They succeed in a marvelous way, and consequently this book is a must for the serious student of nature." MARTINUS VELTMAN, Nobel Laureate; Author of FACTS AND MYSTERIES IN ELEMENTARY PARTICLE PHYSICS

"Formidable as a snow-covered peak, the concept of symmetry looms as a central challenge to all those who would understand modern physics. In this delightful but instructive book, Leon Lederman and Christopher Hill have rendered the great service of making this concept accessible to lay readers." J. MADELEINE NASH, Author of EL NINO: UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF THE MASTER WEATHER-MAKER. ... Read more

5. Global Positioning Systems, Inertial Navigation, and Integration
by Mohinder S.Grewal, Lawrence R.Weill, Angus P.Andrews, Angus P. Andrews
list price: $105.00
our price: $105.00
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Asin: 047135032X
Catlog: Book (2000-12-15)
Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
Sales Rank: 224617
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The only comprehensive guide to Kalman filtering and its applications to real-world GPS/INS problems

Written by recognized authorities in the field, this book provides engineers, computer scientists, and others with a working familiarity with the theory and contemporary applications of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Inertial Navigational Systems, and Kalman filters. Throughout, the focus is on solving real-world problems, with an emphasis on the effective use of state-of-the-art integration techniques for those systems, especially the application of Kalman filtering. To that end, the authors explore the various subtleties, common failures, and inherent limitations of the theory as it applies to real-world situations, and provide numerous detailed application examples and practice problems, including GPS-aided INS, modeling of gyros and accelerometers, and WAAS and LAAS.

Drawing upon their many years of experience with GPS, INS, and the Kalman filter, the authors present numerous design and implementation techniques not found in other professional references, including original techniques for:
* Representing the problem in a mathematical model
* Analyzing the performance of the GPS sensor as a function of model parameters
* Implementing the mechanization equations in numerically stable algorithms
* Assessing computation requirements
* Testing the validity of results
* Monitoring GPS, INS, and Kalman filter performance in operation

In order to enhance comprehension of the subjects covered, the authors have included software in MATLAB, demonstrating the workings of the GPS, INS, and filter algorithms. In addition to showing the Kalman filter in action, the software also demonstrates various practical aspects of finite word length arithmetic and the need for alternative algorithms to preserve result accuracy.
... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best source of information on GPS
One of the students in my lecture came up to me and said he had studied this book all summer to learn about GPS. He found it to be very helpful to him and he said it was the best source of information on GPS he had come across.

5-0 out of 5 stars GPS World Magazine reviewer recommends this book
Here are some quotes from a review of this book in GPS World, July 2001, pp 46-47, by Dr. John Angus, a consultant and researcher in the area of GPS-aided navigation systems, AND professor at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA. Dr. Angus' credentials qualify him to review this book.

"Noteworthy is the comprehensiveness of the material on GPS, Kalman filtering and Kalman filter engineering, and the appendix on coordinate transforms...An instructor could easily develop a one-semester course on basic GPS or a full year course on GPS and inertial navigation, each of them "glued" together by the Kalman filter and enlivened by computer experiments with the MATLAB code provided."

"The writing...tends to be concise and the mathematics is kept to the minimum necessary to expose the theory and methods of filtering, GPS, and INS."

"...effectively addresses most of the basic engineering and performance issues relating to GPS/INS."

"...recommended for personal and professional libraries."

This is an application-oriented book, which as such, does not include detailed mathematical derivations. It does provide Kalman filter algorithms (on floppy and in text), but if one needs the theory of Kalman filtering behind these, one needs to use a Kalman filtering text, such as Kalman Filtering Theory & Practice Using MATLAB (Second Edition), Wiley 2001, by Grewal and Andrews. The latter book gives all of the methods in square root filtering algorithms and derivations and more. If the "Asian Reviewer" is most interested in Kalman filtering, he/she would be better advised to buy a book on Kalman filtering.

2-0 out of 5 stars Almost completely useless book ...
Of course the experience of the authors is great but none of it you can use either in your study or research. It is impossible to learn about Kalman filtering from this book as well as to improve your knowledge in this area. Book is intended for professionals in this area but professionals will not need it. Many intersting facts but no detailed information. For example one can know that the square root filtering method came from James Potter but there is nothing more about this method from this book. Otherwise you have to study sources of the software (included). Book is written as advertizing of author's skills and nothing else. Too much about nothing ... ... Read more

6. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
by Stephen Jay Gould
list price: $45.00
our price: $29.70
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Asin: 0674006135
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Belknap Press
Sales Rank: 14137
Average Customer Review: 3.69 out of 5 stars
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The theory of evolution is regarded as one of the greatest glimmeringsof understanding humans have ever had. It is an idea of science, not ofbelief, and therefore undergoes constant scrutiny and testing byargumentative evolutionary biologists. But while Darwinists may disagreeon a great many things, they all operate within a (thus far) successfulframework of thought first set down in The Origin of Species in 1859.

In The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, a monumental labor ofacademic love, Stephen Jay Gould attempts to define and revise thatframework. Using the clear metaphors and personable style he is so wellknown for, Gould outlines the foundation of the theory and attempts touse it to show that modern evolutionary biology has lost its way. Hethen offers his own system for reconciling Darwin's "basic logicalcommitments" with the critiques of modern scientists.

Gould's massive opus begs a new look at natural selection with the fullweight of history behind it. His opponents will find much to criticize,and orthodox, reductionist Darwinists might feel that Gould has giventhem short shrift. But as an opening monologue for the new century'sbiological debates, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory sets amountainous precedent in exhaustive scholarship, careful logic, andsheer reading pleasure. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Reviews (52)

5-0 out of 5 stars The most important book on evolutionary theory since Darwin
Gould's Structure must surely rank as one of the most important contributions to evolutionary theory since the publication of Origin of Species. In brief, this massive book consists of two parts, the first being an extensive historical review of theories of evolution beginning even before Darwin and extending up to the Modern Synthesis in the 1960s, and the second a critique of key elements in evolutionary theory as formulated by Darwin and codified in the Modern Synthesis. Theoretical controversies introduced in the historical section are shown to persist even in today's discussions. Incidentally, in the first chapter there is a 40 page "abstract" which is an excellent chapter by chapter summary of the book's major points.
Some of the key Darwinian conceptions and Gould's counterproposals are as follows:
1) Darwin: natural selection at the level of the individual organism is the sole, or at least by far the most important, contributor to evolution.
Gould: There is a hierarchy of natural selection, with selection at the species level, not the organismal level, as the most important for macroevolution.
2) Darwin: natural selection operating on (hereditable)variation is by far the most dominant factor in causing evolution.
Gould: constraints on hereditable variation imposed by developmental mechanisms play a very important evolutionary role (this is where Gould gives a superb discussion of some of the recent advances in evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo") integrated into evolutionary theory.)
3) Darwin: Gradual transformation over geological time spans leads to the development of new species.
Gould: In fact, the paleontological evidence is that the vast majority of species develop with great rapidity (in geological terms) and then remain stable before extinction and/or replacement by a new species (punctuated equilibrium). Additionally, global catastrophic events such as the meteorite hit at the end of the Cretaceous era cause massive, sudden, and unpredictable changes in evolution.
I really can't praise this book highly enough. Yes it is long, but Gould's keen analytic abilities and his penchant for introducing interesting analogies (such as spandrels, and their classification into "franklins" and "miltons") kept my attention throughout. This is not a conventional "textbook" of evolution; you won't find here a systematic survey of how and when various different animal groups evolved. But it is an absolutely masterful survey of the theory behind evolution, buttressed by numerous in-depth examples. However, I would strongly suggest to those without much of a background in these matters reading an introductory book like Carl Zimmer's Evolution before attempting to tackle Structure.

3-0 out of 5 stars More of the same
Gould is famous for his writings in Natural History Magazine, and he has many volumes of reprints. Over the 25 years of producing these volumes his style has changed. Originally, he 'taught' evolution, including the enormously valuable historical perspective that simply was not available elsewhere. It was wonderful reading. Gould really shines here.

But over time his style changed; his articles spent more and more column inches trying to demonstrate that his personal ideas in evolutionary theory must be true since he could find so many examples in other fields of human endeavor. Architecture is a favorite. It's not that architecture isn't interesting; I even think spandrels are interesting mathematically, too. The structural origins of spandrels really doesn't contribute as much to evolutionary thought as the presentation would suggest. His recent writing simply go too far out of the way to demonstrate that he can take any field of human knowledge (those in which he has an interest, and numerous they are) and find some connection with evolution. But, as a friend of mine says, "The juice isn't worth the squeeze."

Gould's 'big idea' has been Punctuated Equilibrium. It is an insightful view of the evolutionary record, and an important contribution to the field. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the idea of Population Thinking; how to view the world through the eyes of a biologist.

I think Gould wasn't very happy with the modest reception his big idea received. Many of his later publications, along with those of Eldredge, were more pleading than persuasive. It was A big idea, but not THE big idea. It was not a revolution in evolutionary theory; it is consistent with the modern synthesis.

Gould opens this book by telling us that it, too, is 'one long argument', as Darwin referred to his own "Origin of Species". It is also the title of a recent book by Ernst Mayr. This is an on-going, perhaps unconscious, effort of Gould's to be more Mayr-like in his writing. In many ways "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory" is an attempt to replicate Mayr's "Growth of Biological Thought" and "Towards a New Philosophy of Biology".

In fact, this book begins with almost one hundred pages that seem to be a book within the book; I think Gould finished his 'big book' early and then felt compelled to write an 80 page 'paperback' introduction to it. Feel free to skip these and go right to the meat. Still, the meat is tough.

Reading Gould, the prose always seemed to get in the way of the content. TO a great extent, it still does. If you put in the effort, you will find some great ideas to think about.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting book....but long-winded and bloated
As a non-biologist I found this book tough to read. First, at nearly 1,400 pages the book suffers from a complete lack of editing or even clear sense of organization. SET does not really flow, but, rather, vomits forth sections and subsections in an unending torrent of seemingly ill-planned and overly huge chapters. Second, the book was filled with duplication, uneeded "I'm-so-smart" self-congratulation, and varied in how readable it was. It often went from being a broad conceputal overview focusing on clear theoretical argumentation -- the justification for species-level selection, for instance -- to (me at least) mind-numbing excursions into jargon-filled technical studies. The result was that Gould ended up writing a book ill suited for laymen or experts in the field -- a mish-mash resulting from writing for too broad an audience.

On the plus side, there is a hell of a lot of stuff in there. I feel I now have a fairly good grasp, for an interested layman, of evolutionary theory, especially the drawbacks of "conventional" Darwinian natural selection, and how Gould's suggested theoretical "fixes" -- punctuated equilibrium, hierarchical selection, and species selection -- improves upon Darwin. The deep historical detail Gould goes into when discussing the history of Darwinian thought is also nice, especially for an outsider with little knowledge of evolutionary theory. I also enjoyed Gould's take on "Galton's Polyhedron", explanation of "spandrels", and the connection he draws between structural constraint and selective forces -- concepts I can use when thinking about outcomes in my field, the social sciences.

On the whole, I would say SET is very rich in detail, informaton, and explanation, but gets low marks for exposition. The book could clearly benefit from further editing which is why I give it only 3 stars.

1-0 out of 5 stars Gould fails to get out of his own way
I agree wholeheartedly with the review by "A reader from Vic, Australia." This book is a classic example of what happens when an author gets too big for his editor. The notion that he even had one must be taken as a matter of blind faith, as there is no empirical evidence for it.

Gould might well have had something important to say in this book; certainly, that was my hope when I bought it. Unfortunately, however, he was too busy stringing together endless chains of metaphors and inventing analogies -- many of which are dead ends -- to tell us what it was.

2-0 out of 5 stars For hardcore enthusiasts only
This is a massive book and a fitting final achievement for the immensely popular intellectual. I would recommend it to people who are interested in a deep understanding of Gould's point of view. Gould was undoubtedly a great thinker and his view of evolution is more complex and sophisticated than that of the vast majority of biologists. His most notable real achievement may have been counteracting certain misconceptions about Darwinism, although it is not entirely clear that anyone ever held the misconceptions he claims to have dispelled.

So, why the two stars?

1. His writing is appalling: pretentious, long-winded and cluttered with irrelevent and misleading literary and sporting analogies. For people who want to understand the arguments, rather than admire florid prose and elegant historical rambles, this is very irritating. The Chronicle quotes Gould as saying: "If I'm competent in anything, it's writing." He couldn't be more wrong.

2. The book is desperately in need of a good editor, not just to correct (1) above, but to eliminate a massive amount of repetition. Gould had no tolerance for editing, never redrafted and composed solely on a typewriter, and that shows very painfully. As Library Journal put it - "bloated, redundant and self-indulgent".

3. It's said that the book was written with the intention of establishing Gould in the popular imagination as Darwin's successor. With this aim he pulls a lot of dirty tricks on the reader, ranging from misleading metaphors, to straw men, to selective quotations. These are cleverly structured and stated with great authority, making them very difficult for the non-expert to pick.

4. Just because his view is sophisticated, complex, historical, and rich in literary allusion, doesn't mean it's correct. In fact, the vast majority of evolutionary biologists remain skeptical of Gould's claims, for good reasons that he does not explain.

In summary, the book may be worth reading for evolutionary biologists. It is a terrible book for the laypeople who are Gould's main readers. In contrast, Richard Dawkin's books are highly accessible, enjoyable, and convey core concepts very clearly. ... Read more

7. Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order
by Steven Strogatz
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 0786868449
Catlog: Book (2003-03-05)
Publisher: Theia
Sales Rank: 5769
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The moon spins in perfect resonance with its orbit around the Earth; millions of neurons fire together to control our breathing; every night along the tidal rivers of Malaysia, thousands of fireflies flash in silent, hypnotic unison. All of these astonishing feats of synchrony occur spontaneously -- as if the universe had an overwhelming desire for order. 

The tendency to synchronize may be the most mysterious and pervasive drive in all of nature. It has intrigued some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, including Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Norbert Wiener, Brian Josephson, and Arthur Winfree. But only in the past decade have scientists from disparate disciplines come to the stunning realization that the study of synchrony could revolutionize our understanding of everything from the origin of life to certain types of human behavior. 

At once elegant and riveting, SYNC tells the story of the dawn of a new science. As one of its pioneers, Steven Strogatz, a leading mathematician in the fields of chaos and complexity theory, explains how enormous systems can synchronize themselves, from the electrons in a superconductor to the pacemaker cells in our hearts. He shows that although these phenomena might seem unrelated on the surface, at a deeper level there is a connection, forged by the unifying power of mathematics. 

Along with vivid explanations of cutting-edge theory, Strogatz provides an intimate and highly personal narrative filled with often humorous anecdotes about some of the visionary thinkers of our time. He also describes the startling applications of this new knowledge, such as the harnessing of synchronized electrons to create the world's most sensitive detectors, able to locate oil buried deep underground and to pinpoint diseased tissues associated with epilepsy and heart arrhythmias.

From life's little curiosities to the grandest unsolved mysteries of science, SYNC explores such questions as:

-- Why traffic jams can occur even when there's no accident or other apparent cause
-- Why women roommates sometimes find that their menstrual periods occur in sync
-- What caused hundreds of Japanese children to fall into seizures while watching an episode of Pokemon
-- What triggers riots, fads, and mass hysteria
-- How synchrony in the solar system may have been responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs
-- How consciousness arises from the interplay of millions of mindless brain cells 

A tour de force of science and prose, SYNC reveals the hidden but beautiful order that governs the rhythms of nature and the rhythms of ourselves.  ... Read more

Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars A "Must Read" book!
Review of Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, by Steven Strogatz

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, IEEE Senior Member and author of over 3500 articles.

Two thumbs up! This entertaining and informative book is one of the few I would read twice. You know those lists of books you'd want to have if you were stranded on a desert island? Sync made my list.

While Sync is fact-filled, it's far from dry. Throughout the text, Strogatz made me laugh out loud-reminding me very much of the engaging, "can't put it down" writing style used by Bill Bryson (author of Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail and The Lost Continent).

Strogatz takes a complex topic, and explains it in a way that even folks with no innate interest in the topic will find enjoyable. I learned quite a bit about how and why everything from atoms to planets will suddenly act in unison-or not do so. My newly-gained understanding of the relationship between sleep cycles and body temperature cycles has already helped me make some positive changes. Then there's the explanation of traffic....
Not once did Strogatz use an intimidating equation-or any equation at all. Instead, he treats the reader to rich metaphors, analogies, and examples. And instead of dry history on how sync got where it is today, Strogatz shares the frustrations, peculiarities, and human drama of the people behind the developments. Strogatz keeps a pace that is more in line with a Tom Clancy novel than a book focused on a science topic.

The ending made me go back to the beginning-to the dedication, actually. I never cared about dedications, before. However this one really meant something to me after I read Sync. Strogatz dedicated Sync to his departed friend Art Winfree, without whom Strogatz would never have taken his fabulous journey and without whom such a marvelous book would not have been possible.

5-0 out of 5 stars SYNC a "group mind"
Have you ever wondered how a flock of seagulls can synchronize as though it had a "group mind"? Or even stranger, how various pieces of machinery can appear to conspire together?
Prof. Steven Strogatz shows lucidly, and without written math, that there is a solid mathematical basis leading toward a natural tendency for everything from atoms and galaxies to living organisms to synchronize their behavior and spontaneously form ordered structures. Beginning with the uncanny spectacle of thousands of fireflies flashing in unison, and demonstrating the same principles, heart cells, and civilizations, Sync is filled with fascinating accounts of seemingly - mysterious self-organizing behavior. And computer studies have shown that this appears to be built into nature itself. A unifying theme is "coupled oscillators", as basic a concept as vibrating guitar strings, and how different notes can vibrate parts of the room walls. Such resonance effects exist in all the Universe, and weak though they may be they can produce profound effects in a large group.
After reading Sync, you may initially feel that synchronous "group mind-like" behavior in everything from fireflies to economic cycles is less mysterious, knowing that there's a mathematical foundation. But upon reflection, the mystery even deepens: mathematics is the study of possible relationships among pure numbers, yet when applied to simple vibrating objects, the results pertain to both "dumb" particles and intelligent humans. And while Prof. Strogatz sticks to known science, I'm left speculating on exactly what's so "dumb" about nature!

4-0 out of 5 stars Find out the origin of sync!!!
The craving of nature for synchronization is fundamental. To understand the origin of this basic trait of nature you should also read Eugene Savov's book Theory of Interaction the Simplest Explanation of Everything. It appears that oscillations are intrinsic property of every bit of reality from atoms to galaxies and the universe as whole. Everything vibrates at frequencies of its own as shown in the theory of interaction. This qualitatively new theory reveals why the vibrations become faster deeper into the structure of every body. For example, your heart beats faster than you breathe.

4-0 out of 5 stars My review...
Good book on the subject, the physics part in the middle with super-fluid was difficult when stoned. This is one of the first books which is leading to the convergence of science and religion ( science being the religion of cause and effect ). I especially liked how the book ends with brain-sync to create thoughts and emotions. I've just finished the book "Mind wide Open" because I wanted to know more about how the brain worked because of it. I'm now starting "Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences)", all because of this book. So I liked this book as you can tell. But good books written by Math professors are rare.

5-0 out of 5 stars Considering how cycles are coordinated and humans affected
'Sync' is the emerging science of spontaneous order, studying the elements of synchrony and chaos and complexity theory and considering how cycles are coordinated and humans affected. This is a relatively new science and in Sync: The Emerging Science Of Spontaneous Order, author and mathematician Steven Strogatz (one of its early pioneers), provides invaluable and informative insights into how enormous systems can synchronize themselves and draw upon underlying connections. ... Read more

8. Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity (Helix Books)
by John H. Holland
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
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Asin: 0201442302
Catlog: Book (1996-09-01)
Publisher: Addison Wesley Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 26371
Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb book about evolution and computers
John Holland's work "Hidden Order" is a treatise from the creator of the genetic algorithm on "Complex Adaptive Systems" or CAS. Holland explains in easy to understand language the concept of CAS, how one goes about designing them, and how one can use them to make observations about the universe. Holland is not well known to the general public, but his work in this field is ground breaking and of great importance, and carries on the tradition of logicians such as John von Neumann and Alan Turing. I would advise reading this book before moving on to his later work, "Emergence," as this gives one a sound basis in Holland's thought, and "Emergence" is a slightly more difficult read. A wonderful book.

5-0 out of 5 stars John Holland is the master
In the worlds of Complexity and Artificial Intelligence, the name of John Holland is revered, and for good reason. One of the most important contributions to both fields was Holland's invention of genetic algorithms, a class of optimization techniques that applies a survival-of-the-fittest heuristic to a broad range of otherwise intractable problems. He is certifiably a genius, and his words on the subject of complexity should be considered close to the gospel.

To the benefit of all mankind, this god of complexity has seen fit to lay down his word on the subject in a manner suitable to the masses. He posits seven basic properties of complex adaptive systems (worth reading and memorizing in their own right), then uses the rest of the book to demonstrate that adaptive systems possess these properties and shows us how a computer can capture such adaptive mechanisms. Pure gold and totally accessible.

This book excels as an exposition of complex adaptive systems for the masses, and as a tutorial for the technically inclined. If you are so technically inclined, follow this book with Holland's "Emergence" and "Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems." Then head on over to Goldberg's book on genetic algorithms and maybe some Koza (a quick Amazon search can find these for you).

4-0 out of 5 stars Not the Best Intro Book for Everyone
I think this is an excellent book for someone interested in constructing complex adaptive systems. It clearly lays out the technical guidelines that you would need. And of course, it was written by the man who originated genetic algorithms!

However, if you are new to the phenomena of complex adaptive systems (CAS) or agent-based models (ABM), this might not be the best intro book for you. This is particularly true if you are wondering what a genetic algorithm is right now. I think you will get the most out of the book if you are already somewhat familiar with CAS and ABM as Holland does not dwell on illustrative examples. (Yes there are examples, but they are very short compared to other authors on this topic.) Because of this, I think this book will be rather dry and technical and non-intuitive for a real newbie. If you have no idea where to begin, try _Growing Artificial Societies_ by Joshua Epstein and Robert Axtell.

One final comment: for excellent in-depth look at the reiterated Prisoner's Dilemna model with genetic algorithms that Holland briefly discusses, read _The Complexity of Cooperation_ by Robert Axelrod. (Axelrod and Holland mention each other in their books.)

1-0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas, bad writing
The ideas presented in this book by John Holland are no doubt interestring. The thought of spontaneous self-organization though hardly new has intrigued humans for centuries. Intuitively it makes sense and appeals to most peoples physical and methaphysical sensibilities. We know and hope that there is more to life than our common sense knowledge of it and the often dull and mechanistic accounts of natural science. Emergence theory therefore has an immediate appeal. Holland manages to keep this "flame" alive for one chapter (the first one) then the wholle enterprise is drowned in techno babble and most "non-hacker" readers are bored and dissappointed. This book is one more instance of a genuinly interesting idea being mercilessly slaughtered by bad writing. It's a true waste. It makes you wish writing courses were made compulsory for natural scientists and techo folks. Unfortunatelly it is hard to reckommend a better book on this subject... Most of the existing books are either written by litterary incompetent but hard core techno devotees or by soft science writers ruminating the self evident and riding the tidal wave of hype. All for the buck and a snapshot in the spotlight. A non-trivial sign of an over-hyped field of inquiry, dangerously bordering the realms of pseudoscience. At least chaos theory had Edward Lorenz as a respectable and astute front figure, managing to keep the delicate balance between scientific integrity and popular appeal. As for emergence theory that post is still vacant. Holland may be an important contributor to the field of emergence theory but he fails the requirements for that post.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not there yet
This is a fascinating readable book. Dr Holland shows us many interesting behavioural models with fascinating results. His Echo model and genetic model results are particularly interesting, and insightful.

Still, it seems to me, models based on atomistic concepts and the law of large numbers ought to be subjected to performance measurements based on thermodynamics. Dr. Holland has not shown that these complex adaptive systems imitate nature better than a similar model based on, for example, oxidation-reduction.

Following the ideas of Arthur S Iberall I believe a theory of complex adaptive systems needs to be evaluated in terms of Navier-Stokes equations. ... Read more

9. Self-Organization in Biological Systems (Princeton Studies in Complexity)
by Scott Camazine, Jean-Louis Deneubourg, Nigel R. Franks, James Sneyd, Guy Theraula, Eric Bonabeau
list price: $35.00
our price: $29.05
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Asin: 0691116245
Catlog: Book (2003-08-28)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The synchronized flashing of fireflies at night. The spiraling patterns of an aggregating slime mold. The anastomosing network of army-ant trails. The coordinated movements of a school of fish. Researchers are finding in such patterns--phenomena that have fascinated naturalists for centuries--a fertile new approach to understanding biological systems: the study of self-organization. This book, a primer on self-organization in biological systems for students and other enthusiasts, introduces readers to the basic concepts and tools for studying self-organization and then examines numerous examples of self-organization in the natural world.

Self-organization refers to diverse pattern formation processes in the physical and biological world, from sand grains assembling into rippled dunes to cells combining to create highly structured tissues to individual insects working to create sophisticated societies. What these diverse systems hold in common is the proximate means by which they acquire order and structure. In self-organizing systems, pattern at the global level emerges solely from interactions among lower-level components. Remarkably, even very complex structures result from the iteration of surprisingly simple behaviors performed by individuals relying on only local information. This striking conclusion suggests important lines of inquiry: To what degree is environmental rather than individual complexity responsible for group complexity? To what extent have widely differing organisms adopted similar, convergent strategies of pattern formation? How, specifically, has natural selection determined the rules governing interactions within biological systems?

Broad in scope, thorough yet accessible, this book is a self-contained introduction to self-organization and complexity in biology--a field of study at the forefront of life sciences research. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Real, practical studies of self-organization in biology
Many books containing theory upon theory about self-organization in the biosphere have appeared in recent years. This book could be an important catalyst towards putting more of these theories to the test. While it has long been recognized that self-organization could be important in biological systems, many of these studies are computational models only. Many are very convincing, but unless steps are taken towards verifying these models and scrutinizing their validity, it is very difficult to know whether the theories have any real value towards understanding real life.

The strenght of this book lies in its rigorous introductions to the relevant theoretical concepts in self-organization, followed up by a general debate of self-organization versus competing explanations. The book spends many chapters looking at particular natural phenomena in detail, and examines possibilities for self-organization in these. In spite of the fact that these chapters have different authors, they follow each other well. The book is unusually well put together for this kind of collection of works by multiple authors.

The majority of the case study chapters involve studies of social insects, which narrows the topic a little in comparison with the more ambitious title. Self-organization also occurs elsewhere in biology, and personally I am a little dissapointed that a wider range of case studies were not chosen for the book. This could have spawned more interest and further work in other areas of the field.

However, the book is definitely well worth reading for biologists and other scientists interested in self-organization, and represents a major step towards establishing studies of self-organization in biology as a serious field. ... Read more

10. Systems Thinking: Managing Chaos and Complexity : A Platform for Designing Business Architecture
by Jamshid Gharajedaghi
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
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Asin: 0750671637
Catlog: Book (1999-05-10)
Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In a nutshell, this book is about systems. This book is written for those thinkers and practitioners who have come to realize that while the whole is becoming more and more interdependent parts display choice and behave independently, and that paradoxes are the most potent challenge of emergent realities.

With a practical orientation and yet a profound theoretical depth, the book offers an operational handle on the whole by introducing an elaborate scheme called iterative design. The iterative design explicitly recognizes that choice is at the heart of human development. Development is the capacity to choose; design is a vehicle for enhancement of choice and holistic thinking. 'Designers', in this book, seek to choose rather than predict the future. They try to understand rational, emotional, and cultural dimensions of choice and to produce a design that satisfies a multitude of functions. They learn how to use what they already know and also about how to learn what they need to know.

The imperative of interdependency, the necessity of reducing endless complexities, and the need to produce manageable simplicities require a different mode of thinking, a holistic frame of reference that would allow us to focus on the relevant issues and avoid the endless search for more details while drowning in proliferating information. While organizations as a whole are becoming more and more interdependent the parts display choice and behave independently. This is the dilemma this book tries to resolve. It is a unique, cutting edge work, with a practical orientation and yet a profound theoretical depth, which goes far beyond what is currently available.

Leading edge systems thinking and practice that goes far beyond what is currently available
It deals with the whole, both conceptually and practically, written in a reader-friendly style
Five real cases cited to demonstrate practical application of theories discussed
... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars A necessary addition to any systems library
Gharajedaghi's book will become one of the cornerstones of systems thinking. It presents basic systems concepts in a comprehensive and understandable manner. It then shows how these concepts should be applied to the design of organizations that wish to thrive in the "new world" environment. The book begins with theory, then moves to the nuts-and-bolts of organization architecture. Afterwards, it provides detailed case studies of the work done in organizations from a range of social sectors - health care, power, equipment manufacturing, hotel/motel/resort, community development -- to demonstrate the generic quality of the systems approach. The book might take extra effort for the novice, but it is the kind of work that students keep coming back to again and again as light bulbs go on in their heads. Gharajedaghi has made an important contribution.

5-0 out of 5 stars The book is needed in every person's hip pocket,now!
Gharajedaghi's book is not only a necessary addition to any systems library, but a MUST for everyone's hip pocket - whether doctor, lawyer, cleric, business person, nurse, educator and human being living now. Gharajedaghi has provided the conceptual framework and operational methodology in an exceptionally readable, and very useable text. This book is not the typical "how to" book, giving steps to follow; but provides the depth theory and background necessary for user UNDERSTANDING now, and frees the user to design and create interventions well into the 21st century. If you are interested in "making sense" out of the chaos and complexity around you; if you are interested in providing the necessary structure, process, and function that equates to a new business architecture in your environment, then you have found the best resource in this book. It is most inclusive, it goes from A to Z, and further you will not find as comparable and complete a resource anywhere, for it readys you for the 21st century. Thus check your hip pocket, and add SYSTEMS THINKING: MANAGING CHAOS AND COMPLEXITY:A PLATFORM FOR DESIGNING BUSINESS ARCHITECTURE, if necessary.

5-0 out of 5 stars Practical systems thinking!
I have just reread Mr. Gharajedaghi's book. It is a very thoughtful and engaging review of systems thinking placed in the context of other world views in Modern Times. It is occasionally and with good humor spiced with thoughts from Persia, as well as from the author's direct experience with Russell Ackoff. It ties together thoughts on Business Process Management with larger views on gathering consensus, resolving conflict, engaging in beauty, and managing for profit. It is an ambitious undertaking and succeeds with great integrity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Systems thinking applied to perfection
This is a book about changing the way we usually think. It goes beyond simply proposing systems thinking to delve into the art of managing complexity (as the title mentions).

The book is in fact divided into two portions. The first is an in depth description of systems thinking, a somewhat dry read, given the extreme density of the subject. The second is a number of case studies with which the author was involved. This section, in my opinion, is the most interesting part of the book, as Gharajedaghi shows us how he applies, in practice, what he preaches. There is one story in particular, about the Oneida indian nation, that is simply delightful; I believe it yields significant lessons for anyone seeking to work with development, but is locked into a purely economic standpoint.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best of the best!
This book has taught me more than the $50,000 top 25 MBA program I am just finishing. It is unbelievably rich. You will find yourself turning each page amazed at the depth of insights presented. I honestly can't think of a business book that I would recommend more. ... Read more

11. Chaotic Dynamics of Nonlinear Systems
by S. NeilRasband
list price: $149.00
our price: $149.00
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Asin: 0471634182
Catlog: Book (1990-01-02)
Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
Sales Rank: 640198
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Book Description

An introduction to the study of chaotic systems via numerical analysis, this work includes many applications in physics and employs differential equations, linear vector spaces and some Hamiltonian systems. Includes problems. ... Read more

12. Automating with SIMATIC : Integrated Automation with SIMATIC S7-300/400: Controllers, Software, Programming, Data Communication, Operator Control and Process Monitoring
by HansBerger
list price: $59.95
our price: $59.95
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Asin: 3895782238
Catlog: Book (2004-03-05)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Sales Rank: 338805
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Automating with SIMATIC

Totally Integrated Automation is the concept by means of which SIMATIC controls machines, manufacturing systems and technical processes. Taking the example of the S7-300/400 programmable controller, this book provides a comprehensive introduction to the architecture and operation of a state-of-the-art automation system. It also gives an insight into configuration and parameter setting for the controller and the distributed I/O. Communication via network connections is explained, along with a description of the available scope for operator control and monitoring of a plant.

As the central automation tool, STEP 7 manages all relevant tasks and offers a choice of various text and graphics-oriented PLC programming languages and their respective different features are explained to the reader.

For this second edition, the contents of all sections of the book have been revised and updated, the latest version of the STAEP 7 basic software is described.

The book is ideal for those who have no extensive prior knowledge of programmable controllers and wish for an uncomplicated introduction to this subject. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Gives a good overall picture of Simatic S7 200/300/400
A book that gives a good overall picture of the Siemens Simatic S7 200/300/400. It may help engineers and technicians who are working with this product to understand many other configurations of Siemens automation products. Not a book if you are only interested in how to program S7 PLC. ... Read more

13. Managing the Laboratory Animal Facility
by Jerald Silverman
list price: $79.95
our price: $79.95
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Asin: 0849312337
Catlog: Book (2001-10-18)
Publisher: CRC Press
Sales Rank: 1124901
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Book Description

Most people in research are elevated into managerial positions because of their skills as scientists and their political acumen, not necessarily because of managerial training or experience. Helping to fill this need for managerial training, author Jerald Silverman shares the valuable information he's gained from over 25 years experience managing a laboratory animal facility. He takes proven managerial concepts and adapts them to the laboratory animal facility setting. Whether you are a manager in training or you are looking for help in applying the basic concepts of managing a laboratory animal facility, this book helps you fulfill the unique responsibilities of assessing needs, communicating effectively, and establishing goals with people from many different academic and skill levels. ... Read more

14. Linked: The New Science of Networks
by Albert-László Barabási
list price: $26.00
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Asin: 0738206679
Catlog: Book (2002-05)
Publisher: Perseus Books Group
Sales Rank: 111010
Average Customer Review: 4.05 out of 5 stars
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How is the human brain like the AIDS epidemic? Ask physicist Albert-László Barabási and he'll explain them both in terms of networks of individual nodes connected via complex but understandable relationships. Linked: The New Science of Networks is his bright, accessible guide to the fundamentals underlying neurology, epidemiology, Internet traffic, and many other fields united by complexity.

Barabási's gift for concrete, nonmathematical explanations and penchant for eccentric humor would make the book thoroughly enjoyable even if the content weren't engaging. But the results of Barabási's research into the behavior of networks are deeply compelling. Not all networks are created equal, he says, and he shows how even fairly robust systems like the Internet could be crippled by taking out a few super-connected nodes, or hubs. His mathematical descriptions of this behavior are helping doctors, programmers, and security professionals design systems better suited to their needs. Linked presents the next step in complexity theory--from understanding chaos to practical applications. --Rob Lightner ... Read more

Reviews (60)

5-0 out of 5 stars Dimensions and Implications of Global Interconnectedness
Frankly, I found this to be an unusually challenging book to read the first time and therefore re-read it before organizing my thoughts for this review. The Five Star rating correctly indicates my high regard for what Barabasi has accomplished as he attempts to help his reader to think in terms of networks in new and different (probably unfamiliar) ways. His book "is about how networks emerge, what they look like, and how they evolve." With meticulous care, he presents "a Web-based view of nature, society, and business, a new framework for understanding issues ranging from democracy on the Web to vulnerability of the Internet and the spread of deadly viruses." Along the way, Barabasi challenges the concept of "The Random Universe," asserting instead that everything is connected to everything else. He devotes most of his book to explaining the significance of that global interconnectedness to business, science, and everyday life.

As a non-scientist, I am unqualified to comment on much of the material which Barabasi shares. Perhaps he wrote this book for non-scientists such as I who nonetheless struggle to understand what Barabasi characterizes as the "mystery of life" which begins with the intricate web of interactions and thereby integrates the millions of molecules within each organism. "The enigma of the society starts with the convoluted structure of the social network....[For that reason] networks are the prerequisite for describing any complex system, indicating that complexity theory must inevitably stand on the shoulders of network theory. It is tempting to step in the footsteps of some of my predecessors and predict whether and when we will tame complexity." Given all that has been accomplished thus far with regard to disentangling the networks following the discovery of scale-free networks, Barabasi concludes, "Once we stumble across the right vision of complexity, it will take little to bring it to fruition. When [in italics] that will happen is one of the mysteries that keeps many of us going."

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Mark Buchanan's Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks, Stanley Kaufman's At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity as well as The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, Steven Strogatz' Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Duncan J. Watts' Six Degrees: the Science of a Connected Age, and Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science.

I probably should add Ed Regis' The Info Mesa: Science, Business, and the New Alchemy on the Santa Fe Plateau. Regis devotes almost all of his attention to individuals and events who and which, over several decades, had a profound impact on essentially the same subjects as those discussed in the books previously recommended. Also, Regis examines in much greater detail than do the other authors how core concepts about networks and their complexity were introduced to the commercial marketplace by various entrepreneurs.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great explanatory power!
Nowadays, everybody talks about networks. Yet, what networks really are and how they function, often remains rather vague in conversations. This book offers great insight into the evolution, the structure and the relevance of networks. The author, Albert Barabási, himself a creative and important contributor to network science, makes the rapid and fascinating advances made in this field comprehensible.

Our world is filled with complex networks, webs of highly connected nodes. Not all nodes are equal, however. In fact, in many real-world complex networks, there is a typical hierarchy of nodes (called a POWERLAW DISTRIBUTION). This means there are a few extremely well connected nodes (these are called HUBS), there are quite a few moderately connected nodes and there are large numbers of tiny nodes (having very few connections to other nodes). The Internet, for instance, has only several hubs - like and Yahoo - and countless tiny nodes -like my own website :-(.

The structure of networks with a powerlaw distribution is called a SCALEFREE TOPOLOGY. Such a scale free topology is found in networks that 1) are GROWING (extra nodes and links emerge), and 2) are characterised by PREFERENTIAL ATTACHMENT (this means that some links are far more likely to get linked than others). Preferential attachment, is driven by two factors: 1) the number of links the node already has (this is in fact the first mover advantage: a nodes that has been there since the early development of the network gets the biggest chance to get connected), and 2) the node's fitness (for instance a new website offering a truely unique service has an excellent chance to get many links).

A fascinating characteristic of scale free networks is the following. The density of the interconnectivity paradoxically creates two properties at the same time: 1) ROBUSTNESS (removing nodes will not easily lead to the breakdown of the network, precisely because of the fact that all nodes are connected. Only simultaneous removal of the largest hubs will break down the network), and 2) VULNERABILITY TO ATTACK (because of the fact that all nodes are indirectely connected to each other failures, like viruses, can very easily spread through the whole network. This phenomenon is called 'cascading failures'.

Reading this book made me realise that the recently acquired knowledge about networks is revolutionizing many fields of science, like biology, medical science and economics. Also, the practical applications will be numerous, like protecting the internet, fighting terrorist networks, finding a cure for cancer (!), and developing new organizational forms.

5-0 out of 5 stars A complex world in simple words
This is an excellent book. The author is extremely able to explain difficult concepts about complex systems in a simple and precise manner, using examples from a variety of domains. The richness of applications -- ranging from spread of epidemics to the internet-- is the first strength of the book and of the theory of scale free networks that appear to be a very promising and original tool to understand the web of interactions of complex systems. The second strength is the clarity of writing: a rarity in the scientific world. This book is an example of good writing with the objective of being understood and making science accessible.

5-0 out of 5 stars A captivating read
I first heard the author speak on NPR. Not only was I enthralled with his intelligence and clarity of thought, I was captivated by the promise of a new perspective on the connectedness of all things, from the sizes of stars in a galaxy to the revolution in internet search engines to the biology of the cell. This book delivers on that promise with insight, wit and style.

3-0 out of 5 stars Reduction to nodes and links
Albert Barabasi presents the lay reader with a stimulating description of the origins of network theory and recent applications. He describes random networks, small world and scalefree networks. In nonrandom networks the importance of hubs is emphasized. Small world networks are the ones with a well defined averge number of links, and in scalefree ones the density of links scales as a power law. For the many interesting examples discussed, I would like to have seen graphs showing scaling over at least three decades in order to be convinced of scaling. However, in practice, whether a network scales or not may not be so important. I liked best the discussions of terrorism, AIDS, and biology. If one could locate the hubs, then a small world network could be destroyed, but as the author points out there is no systematic method for locating the hubs. Also, destroyed hubs in a terror network might be replaced rather fast, whereas airline hubs could not be replaced so quickly. The book might be seen as indicating a starting point to try to develop a branch of mathematical sociology. For example, the maintainance of ethnic identity outside the Heimat is discussed in terms of networking. Now for a little criticism.

I did not find the discussion of ‚the rich get richer' very helpful because network theory at this stage deals only with static geometry, not with empirically-based dynamics. In fact, the dynamics of financial markets have been described empirically accurately without using any notion of networking. In the text the phrase „economic stability" is used but stability is a dynamic idea, and there is no known empirical evidence from the analysis of real markets for any kind of stability. The absence of dynamics on networks means that complexity is not described at all: there is nothing complex about the geometry of a static network! Suggesting that cell biology can be described by networking is empty so long as dynamics are not deduced from empirics. Nonempirical models of dynamics will probably not be of much use for making advances in understanding or treating cancer, e.g. Everything we know about cell biology and cancer was discovered via reductionism, by isolating cause and effect the way that a good auto mechanic does in order to repair a car.

Unfortunately, the author lets his enthusiasm get the best of him when he proclaims „laws of self-organization" and the need to go beyond reductionism. First, there are no known laws of „self-organization". The only known laws of nature are the laws of physics and consequences deduced from the laws, namely, chemistry and cell biology. Worse, every mathematical model that can be written down is a form of reductionism. Quantum theory reduces phenomena to (explains phenomena via) atoms and molecules. All of chemistry is about that. Cell biology attempts to reduce observed phenomena to DNA, proteins, and cells. Believers in self-organized criticality try to reduce the important features of nature to the equivalent of sandpiles. Network enthusiasts hope to reduce phenomena to nodes and links. In order to try to isolate cause and effect, there is no escape from reductionism of one form or another, holism being an empty illusion. So I did not at all like the assertion on pg. 200 that globalization (via deregulation and privatization) is inevitable, because there is no law that tells us that it is.

Summarizng: there is no complexity without dynamics, there are no known „laws of self-organization", and reductionism is the only hope for doing science. Anyone who disagrees with this is welcome to explain to me and others the alternative ( ... Read more

15. Introduction to Systems Analysis & Design:A Structured Approach
by Penny A Kendall
list price: $127.19
our price: $127.19
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Asin: 0697124142
Catlog: Book (1995-07-01)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Sales Rank: 68256
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Introduction to Systems Analysis and Design: A Structured Approach covers the most up-to-date tools of structured analysis and design, while presenting traditional techniques such as interviewing and forms design. Its goal is to create an integrated methodology by combining the best elements of new and traditional technologies. The tools and techniques of analysis and design are introduced by how they are used in business applications. Students will learn that all tools aren't necessary for every project and will learn to apply these tools to a wide variety of problems. Introduction to Systems Analysis and Design: A Structured Approach can be used in the introductory analysis and design class, which is taught at community and four-year colleges and at graduate schools. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

2-0 out of 5 stars Out-dated and boring
I just finished an intro to systems analysis class that used this book as a textbook. While the basic tools of analysis haven't changed since this book was written, it is hopelessly outdated when it discusses anytechnology or software. It contains a lengthy discourse on the relativemerits of dot matrix vs. daisey wheel printers, and when discussing CASEtools and 4GL's only 1 of the companies it talks about is still inexistence. Even those things in the book that are still relevant arepresented in a mind-numbing 'text-book' like way, and always requiredfurther explanation from our instructor. My textbook was published in 1995which is several ages in the biz so look else where for a good intro textuntil they update this one. ... Read more

16. Dictionary of Electrical Engineering, Power Engineering and Automation, Part 2/English – German : Fachwörterbuch industrielle Elektrot ... technik, Teil 2/Englisch – Deutsch
by Herausgegeen Von Siemens
list price: $100.00
our price: $100.00
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Asin: 3895781932
Catlog: Book (2003-12-12)
Publisher: Wiley-VCH
Sales Rank: 2083682
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Book Description

Compared to the last edition, this worldwide-respected dictionary has been updated and enlarged by about 35%. It is the standard work for all those requiring a comprehensive and reliable compilation of terms from the fields of power generation, transmission and distribution, drive engineering, automation, switchgear and installation engineering, power electronics as well as measurement, analysis and test engineering. Including also a great number of basic electrotechnical terms, with about 90,000 entries and 125,000 translations in Volume 1 (German-English) and 75,000 entries and 109,000 translations in Volume 2 (English-German) it comprehensively covers large fields of industrially applied electrical engineering. ... Read more

17. Optimal Estimation of Dynamic Systems
by John L. Crassidis, John L. Junkins
list price: $119.95
our price: $119.95
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Asin: 158488391X
Catlog: Book (2004-04-23)
Publisher: Chapman & Hall/CRC
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This book introduces the fundamental ideas of linear stochastic estimation or what is more commonly known as optimal estimation. These ideas are important in the field of control where the signals received are noisy and used to determine the flight path of a plane, orbit of a space vehicle or the control of a machine. The authors provide rigorous theoretical derivations with qualitative discussion, judgments, and applications while making it accessible to the beginner. They use dynamic models from mechanical and aerospace engineering as opposed to the traditional black box to provide immediate results of estimation concepts with only a minimum reliance on mathematical skills. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding inclusive text on estimation theory!
It presents the fundamentals of state estimation theory and the tools for the design of state-of-the-art algorithms for navigation and tracking, vehicle attitude determination. There is a lot of material that is covered by this book. The examples are well presented and they really help you when working on the problems at the end of each chapter. Also, computer routines for all the examples shown in the text can be accessed. I have to say that this is an excellent book for estimation of dynamic systems. ... Read more

18. Essentials of Fuzzy Modeling and Control
by Ronald R.Yager, Dimitar P.Filev
list price: $85.00
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Asin: 0471017612
Catlog: Book (1994-06-27)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 241331
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Book Description

Written by two of the foremost researchers on fuzzy logic, it offers a thorough introduction to the field with complete coverage of both relevant theory and applications. This is a valuable teaching tool to introduce fuzzy logic. ... Read more

19. Automating with STEP 7 in LAD and FBD : SIMATIC S7-300/400 Programmable Controllers
by HansBerger
list price: $83.00
our price: $76.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 3895781703
Catlog: Book (2001-08-23)
Publisher: Wiley-VCH
Sales Rank: 171737
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

SIMATIC S7 programmable controllers are used to implement industrial control systems for machines, manufacturing plants and industrial processes. The relevant open-loop and closed-loop control tasks can be solved using the STEP 7 programming software, which has been developed on the basis of STEP 5, with its various programming languages.
This book describes elements and applications of the graphic-oriented programming languages LAD (ladder diagram) and FBD (function block diagram) for use with both SIMATIC S7-300 and SIMATIC S7-400. It is aimed at all users of SIMATIC S7 programmable controllers. First-time users will be introduced to the field of programmable logic control whereas advanced users will learn about specific applications of SIMATIC S7 programmable controllers.
The enclosed diskette contains many programming examples written in LAD and FBD and archived within block libraries. The examples can be viewed, modified and tested using STEP 7.
... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Highly useable
Anyone involved with exploring the world of Step7 would do well with this book.
I have been involved with PLC technology since 1979 and even today there are too few available reference manuals.
Franky I am disappointed with the Step 7 products particularly the software. I find it primitive in many ways and much more difficult to use than it needs to be.
Programmers should spend their time solving automation problems not struggling with the intracacies and peculiarities of the platform.
If you program with Step 7 or plan to, this book will save you a lot of headaches since little in Step 7 is as intuitive as Allen Bradley or Modicon. ... Read more

20. The Ecology of Plants
by Jessica Gurevitch, Samuel M. Scheiner, Gordon A. Fox
list price: $94.95
our price: $94.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0878932917
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: Sinauer Associates
Sales Rank: 545985
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