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Chaos & Systems


Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity

Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity Lowest new price: $16.99
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Author: John Gribbin
Brand: Random House

Over the past two decades, no field of scientific inquiry has had a more striking impact across a wide array of disciplines–from biology to physics, computing to meteorology–than that known as chaos and complexity, the study of complex systems. Now astrophysicist John Gribbin draws on his expertise to explore, in prose that communicates not only the wonder but the substance of cutting-edge science, the principles behind chaos and complexity. He reveals the remarkable ways these two revolutionary theories have been applied over the last twenty years to explain all sorts of phenomena–from weather patterns to mass extinctions.

Grounding these paradigm-shifting ideas in their historical context, Gribbin also traces their development from Newton to Darwin to Lorenz, Prigogine, and Lovelock, demonstrating how–far from overturning all that has gone before–chaos and complexity are the triumphant extensions of simple scientific laws. Ultimately, Gribbin illustrates how chaos and complexity permeate the universe on every scale, governing the evolution of life and galaxies alike.

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  • Random House

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Life's Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos

Life's Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos Lowest new price: $18.37
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Author: Peter M. Hoffmann
Brand: Basic Books

Life is an enduring mystery. Yet, science tells us that living beings are merely sophisticated structures of lifeless molecules. If this view is correct, where do the seemingly purposeful motions of cells and organisms originate? In Life's Ratchet, physicist Peter M. Hoffmann locates the answer to this age-old question at the nanoscale.

Below the calm, ordered exterior of a living organism lies microscopic chaos, or what Hoffmann calls the molecular storm—specialized molecules immersed in a whirlwind of colliding water molecules. Our cells are filled with molecular machines, which, like tiny ratchets, transform random motion into ordered activity, and create the “purpose” that is the hallmark of life. Tiny electrical motors turn electrical voltage into motion, nanoscale factories custom-build other molecular machines, and mechanical machines twist, untwist, separate and package strands of DNA. The cell is like a city—an unfathomable, complex collection of molecular workers working together to create something greater than themselves.

Life, Hoffman argues, emerges from the random motions of atoms filtered through these sophisticated structures of our evolved machinery. We are agglomerations of interacting nanoscale machines more amazing than anything in science fiction. Rather than relying on some mysterious “life force” to drive them—as people believed for centuries—life's ratchets harness instead the second law of thermodynamics and the disorder of the molecular storm.

Grounded in Hoffmann's own cutting-edge research, Life's Ratchet reveals the incredible findings of modern nanotechnology to tell the story of how the noisy world of atoms gives rise to life itself.

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  • Basic Books

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The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems

The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems Lowest new price: $8.95
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Author: Fritjof Capra
Brand: Capra, Fritjof

The vitality and accessibility of Fritjof Capra's ideas have made him perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson of the latest findings emerging at the frontiers of scientific, social, and philosophical thought. In his international bestsellers The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point, he juxtaposed physics and mysticism to define a new vision of reality. In The Web of Life, Capra takes yet another giant step, setting forth a new scientific language to describe interrelationships and interdependence of psychological, biological, physical, social, and cultural phenomena--the "web of life."



During the past twenty-five years, scientists have challenged conventional views of evolution and the organization of living systems and have developed new theories with revolutionary philosophical and social implications. Fritjof Capra has been at the forefront of this revolution. In The Web of Life, Capra offers a brilliant synthesis of such recent scientific breakthroughs as the theory of complexity, Gaia theory, chaos theory, and other explanations of the properties of organisms, social systems, and ecosystems. Capra's surprising findings stand in stark contrast to accepted paradigms of mechanism and Darwinism and provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing the opportunities for future generations.



Now available in paperback for the first time, The Web of Life is cutting-edge science writing in the tradition of James Gleick's Chaos, Gregory Bateson's Mind and Matter, and Ilya Prigogine's Order Out of Chaos.

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Synergetics: Chaos, Order, Self-Organization

Synergetics: Chaos, Order, Self-Organization Lowest new price: $85.00
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Author: Michael Bushev

For centuries, humankind has believed that the world with all its form and structure was created by supernatural forces. In recent decades science has shaken these beliefs with the discovery of the exciting possibility of a self-created and self-creating world — of self-organization. Synergetics endeavours to reveal the intimate mechanisms of self-organization. The transitions from chaos to order, the nature of self-organization, the various approaches to it and certain philosophical inferences are outlined. Synergetics thus represents a remarkable confluence of many strands of thought, and has become a paradigm in modern culture. This book exposes the reader to striking new vistas in physics and mathematics, chemistry and biology, social sciences and philosophy — all interlocked around the concept of self-organization.


Seven Life Lessons of Chaos: Spiritual Wisdom from the Science of Change

Seven Life Lessons of Chaos: Spiritual Wisdom from the Science of Change Lowest new price: $4.36
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Author: John Briggs

If you have ever felt your life was out of control and headed toward chaos,science has an important message: Life is chaos, and that's a very exciting thing!

In this eye-opening book, John Briggs and F. David Peat reveal sevenenlightening lessons for embracing the chaos of daily life.

Be Creative:
engage with chaos to find imaginative new solutions and live more dynamically

Use Butterfly Power:
let chaos grow local efforts into global results

Go With the Flow:
use chaos to work collectively with others

Explore What's Between:
discover life's rich subtleties and avoid the traps of stereotypes

See the Art of the World:
appreciate the beauty of life's chaos

Live Within Time:
utilize time's hidden depths

Rejoin the Whole:
realize our fractal connectedness to each other and the world

Life is impossible to control--instead of fighting this truth, Seven Life Lessons of Chaos shows you how to accept, celebrate, and use it to live life to its fullest.

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Chaos: An Introduction to Dynamical Systems (Textbooks in Mathematical Sciences)

Chaos: An Introduction to Dynamical Systems (Textbooks in Mathematical Sciences) Lowest new price: $57.60
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Author: Kathleen T. Alligood

Developed and class-tested by a distinguished team of authors at two universities, this text is intended for courses in nonlinear dynamics in either mathematics or physics. The only prerequisites are calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. Along with discussions of the major topics, including discrete dynamical systems, chaos, fractals, nonlinear differential equations and bifurcations, the text also includes Lab Visits -- short reports that illustrate relevant concepts from the physical, chemical and biological sciences. There are Computer Experiments throughout the text that present opportunities to explore dynamics through computer simulations, designed for use with any software package. And each chapter ends with a Challenge, guiding students through an advanced topic in the form of an extended exercise.

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Elegant Fractals: Automated Generation of Computer Art (Fractals And Dynamics In Mathematics, Science, And The Arts: Theory And Applications)

Elegant Fractals: Automated Generation of Computer Art (Fractals And Dynamics In Mathematics, Science, And The Arts: Theory And Applications) Lowest new price: $98.00
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Author: Julien Clinton Sprott

Fractals are intricate geometrical forms that contain miniature copies of themselves on ever smaller scales. This colorful book describes methods for producing an endless variety of fractal art using a computer program that searches through millions of equations looking for those few that can produce images having aesthetic appeal. Over a hundred examples of such images are included with a link to the software that produced these images, and can also produce many more similar fractals. The underlying mathematics of the process is also explained in detail. Other books by the author that could be of interest to the reader are Elegant Chaos: Algebraically Simple Chaotic Flows (J C Sprott, 2010) and Elegant Circuits: Simple Chaotic Oscillators (J C Sprott and W J Thio, 2020).


The End of Certainty

The End of Certainty Lowest new price: $9.00
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Author: Ilya Prigogine
Brand: Free Press

Time, the fundamental dimension of our existence, has fascinated artists, philosophers, and scientists of every culture and every century. All of us can remember a moment as a child when time became a personal reality, when we realized what a "year" was, or asked ourselves when "now" happened. Common sense says time moves forward, never backward, from cradle to grave. Nevertheless, Einstein said that time is an illusion. Nature's laws, as he and Newton defined them, describe a timeless, deterministic universe within which we can make predictions with complete certainty. In effect, these great physicists contended that time is reversible and thus meaningless.

In this intellectually challenging book, Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine tackles some of the difficult questions that bedevil physicists trying to provide an explanation for the world we observe. How is it, for instance, that basic principles of quantum mechanics--which lack any differentiation between forward and backward directions in time--can explain a world with an "arrow of time" headed unambiguously forward? And how do we escape classical physics' assertion that the world is deterministic? In a sometimes mathematical and frequently mind-bending book, Prigogine explores deterministic chaos, nonequilibrium thermodynamics, and even cosmology and the origin of the universe in an attempt to reach an explanation that can reconcile physical laws with subjective reality.

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  • Free Press

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Systems Thinking: Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture

Systems Thinking: Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture Lowest new price: $33.00
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Author: Jamshid Gharajedaghi
Brand: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers

Systems Thinking, Third Edition combines systems theory and interactive design to provide an operational methodology for defining problems and designing solutions in an environment increasingly characterized by chaos and complexity. This new edition has been updated to include all new chapters on self-organizing systems as well as holistic, operational, and design thinking.

The book covers recent crises in financial systems and job markets, the housing bubble, and environment, assessing their impact on systems thinking. A companion website is available at interactdesign.com.

This volume is ideal for senior executives as well as for chief information/operating officers and other executives charged with systems management and process improvement. It may also be a helpful resource for IT/MBA students and academics.

  • Four NEW chapters on self-organizing systems, holistic thinking, operational thinking, and design thinking
  • Covers the recent crises in financial systems and job markets globally, the housing bubble, and the environment, assessing their impact on systems thinking
  • Companion website to accompany the book is available at interactdesign.com

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  • Morgan Kaufmann Publishers

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The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable

The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable Lowest new price: $4.25
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Author: James Owen Weatherall
Brand: Mariner Books

“Weatherall probes an epochal shift in financial strategizing with lucidity, explaining how it occurred and what it means for modern finance.”—Peter Galison, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps

After the economic meltdown of 2008, many pundits placed the blame on “complex financial instruments” and the physicists and mathematicians who dreamed them up. But how is it that physicists came to drive Wall Street? And were their ideas really the cause of the collapse?
In The Physics of Wall Street, the physicist James Weatherall answers both of these questions. He tells the story of how physicists first moved to finance, bringing science to bear on some of the thorniest problems in economics, from bubbles to options pricing. The problem isn’t simply that economic models have limitations and can break down under certain conditions, but that at the time of the meltdown those models were in the hands of people who either didn’t understand their purpose or didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science. However, Weatherall argues that the solution is not to give up on the models but to make them better. Both persuasive and accessible, The Physics of Wall Street is riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future.

Q&A with James Owen Weatherall

James Owen Weatherall

Q. What is The Physics of Wall Street all about?

A. Over the past few years, we've heard a lot about a new kind of Wall Street elite known as "quants." These are often physicists and mathematicians who have moved to finance and brought radically new ideas along with them. This book is an attempt to understand these quants and the mathematical models they use to predict market behavior. It's two parts history and one part argument: I tell the surprisingly fun story of how physicists and their ideas made it to Wall Street in the first place, and along the way I argue that this history reveals something important about how we should think about the models and practices they have introduced--especially in light of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

Q. You say the history is surprisingly fun. Can you give an example?

A. The physicists and mathematicians I write about in the book are (or were) very smart, creative people who put their scientific training to use in surprising new ways. Their stories are fascinating. For instance, Edward Thorp, who invented the modern quantitative hedge fund, was also the first person to prove that card counting could be used to reliably get an edge in blackjack. He spent a good amount of time working the card tables in Las Vegas. And Norman Packard and Doyne Farmer, who started a pioneering financial services firm in the early 1990s, spent their graduate school years at UC Santa Cruz inventing the new science of chaos theory while trying to build a computer to beat the odds in roulette--the profits from which were intended to start a yippie commune in the Pacific Northwest.

Q. What surprised you most about the history you uncovered?

A. One thing that surprised me was that derivatives contracts such as options, futures, and swaps, which are often discussed as though they were a troubling new innovation, have actually been around for thousands of years. For example, scientists have found cuneiform tablets containing records of futures traded by ancient Sumerians. Even the idea of using mathematical methods to price options is quite old. I pick up the story in 1900, with the visionary work of a French physicist named Louis Bachelier, but some strands go back further, to the mid-nineteenth century. Plus, there are some striking historical connections in the book. For instance, I explain the relationship between the invention of nylon and the development of the atomic bomb--and how both influenced at least one physicist's to switch to a financial career. And I tell the story of how the space race and the Vietnam War were partly responsible for many physicists moving to Wall Street banks in the 1980s.

Q. What can this history teach us about models used in finance?

A. If you look at how the physicists and mathematicians who came up with the earliest financial models thought about what they were doing, the role of simplifying assumptions and idealizations becomes very clear. The goal was to get a toehold on some very hard problems, and not to come up with a final, overarching theory of financial markets. Making simplified assumptions can lead to the solution of a problem that you otherwise couldn’t solve--but that solution is only going to be a reliable guide to how the world works when the assumptions you’ve made are approximately true. The important question, and the one that physicists are always trained to ask, is when do your assumptions fail and what happens when they do? I don’t think the importance of this question has been recognized as widely as it should be among the traders who rely on these models.

Q. At the end of the book, you describe an "Economic Manhattan Project." What would that be like?

A. The Economic Manhattan Project was proposed in 2008 by the mathematical physicist and hedge fund manager Eric Weinstein. The idea is that economic and financial security--that is, regulating the economy to avoid future calamities--should be at the very top of our agenda. Yet the resources we devote to physical security, to military technology and defense, far outstrip what we spend on developing better economic theories. In the past, America has set goals--for the original Manhattan Project, the race to the moon, and others--when we have funneled resources into serious innovation. And whenever we have done so, we have succeeded in accomplishing great things. I think it is time to make a similar kind of commitment to developing the next generation of economic models, with the goal of finding radical new ideas to make the economy safer and more robust.

Q. You're a philosophy professor. Why did you write a book about finance?

A. The short answer is simply that I find the history and the ideas fascinating. I have a Ph.D. in physics and I like thinking about how physics can be applied to novel problems. The longer answer is that the issues in this book aren't so far removed from philosophy. Philosophers spend a lot of time thinking about what we can know about the world and how to deal with fundamental uncertainty. Philosophy has a reputation for being abstract and distant from everyday concerns. And sometimes it is. But when it comes to mathematical models, philosophical issues really matter for how we make important economic and financial decisions--decisions that have significant real-world ramifications. And for me, at least, the most interesting and important philosophical questions are those that we face as practicing scientists and policymakers--and even as investors.

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  • Mariner Books

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