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Thread: Books on Chaos theory, complex systems, cybernetics

  1. #1 Books on Chaos theory, complex systems, cybernetics 
    Forum Freshman Clyde's Avatar
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    I am interested in books on Chaos theory, Complex Systems, Cybernetics. I have been reading them for about 5 years now. I am especially interested in:

    1. The history of these related ideas. How did people develop them? What kinds of conversations and research were involved? Like, for instance, why did Jan Smuts come up with "holism"? What was it about his history, or personality, which caused him to synthesize his experiences in such a novel fashion.

    2. Applications to social sciences. Like psychology (your emotions, thoughts, behaviors as interweaving, semi-balanced systems), and management sciences (the organization, or society, as a complex adaptive system).

    I have a list of about 20 books that I've read and commented on here:

    http://adaptingsystems.com/aboutus.aspx

    But I am always looking for more suggestions. The search function on "Amazon" and "Google" is mainly how I find books, plus bibliographies in the backs of books and articles I read. But some of them I just stumbled upon, and I am sure there are other sources out there that I haven't found yet.

    Also, I am wondering if there are any discussion forums or groups out there where nontechnically-oriented people like myself can discuss some of the possible applications of thinking systemically at our comfort level.

    I have looked at "yahoo" and "google" and "facebook" discussion groups but the only really active groups seem to be kind of technical. Computer programmers and physicists and the like.


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  3. #2 Re: Books on Chaos theory, complex systems, cybernetics 
    Forum Freshman Clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clyde
    I am interested in books on Chaos theory, Complex Systems, Cybernetics. I have been reading them for about 5 years now.
    One book I am trying to get is "International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics", edited by Charles Francois. There is the original 1997 version, updated in a second edition in 2004. Something like 4,000 entries in the second edition. I saw a page on the web... wow. You would not believe the amount of info in this book. I'm a bright guy, but this book will crush my brain about 16 times, maybe more.... I can't wait!

    Problem is, it retails for something like 500 dollars. Maybe one of the local universities in my area will let me look at it.

    Another book I want to see is "An introduction to Systems Science" by John N. Warfield. He is on the board of editors of Francois' "Encyclopedia".

    But Warfield's book retails for $113 on Amazon (!!!). So I am not sure how I am going to get my hands on it.

    I have read the basic introductions, like James Gleick's "Chaos", and Michael Waldrop's "Complexity". Those titles went through massive printings, so you can get them for a couple bucks on Amazon. Throw in shipping and you still are only out 5 or 6 dollars. But a lot of the less-copiously reproduced tomes seem to be quite pricey.

    I am all for renumerating the author, and paying the publisher, but some times it seems like they have locked up the information in a vault, and if you want it you have to pay an exorbitant amount.

    That's today's gripe. It may be the "information age", but it is still ensconced within the "age of money."

    But hey, life is good. The challenge gives me something to look forward to... someday I will get my claws on Francois' "Encyclopedia"...


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  4. #3 Re: Books on Chaos theory, complex systems, cybernetics 
    Forum Freshman Clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clyde
    One book I am trying to get is "International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics", edited by Charles Francois. There is the original 1997 version, updated in a second edition in 2004. Something like 4,000 entries in the second edition. I saw a page on the web... wow. You would not believe the amount of info in this book...

    Problem is, it retails for something like 500 dollars. Maybe one of the local universities in my area will let me look at it.
    I am still trying to get this book, through interlibrary loan, but probably no library will let go of it at that price. I can't believe the publisher would charge that much for a book. Ridiculous.

    There is a need for such a work, too. The problem with my field of interest is that i is like the Wild West. There seems to be no sheriff in town. You have:

    -- 'Complex Adaptive Systems' (or, 'Complexity'; see e.g. M. Waldrop's book)

    -- 'Cybernetics' (N. Weiner et al)

    -- 'General Systems Theory' (Bertalanffy)

    -- 'Catastrophe Theory' (Rene Thom)

    -- 'Chaos Theory' (see e.g. J. Gleick's book)

    -- 'Dissipative Structures (I. Prigogine)

    -- 'Anticipatory Systems (R. Rosen)

    -- 'Synergetics' (H. Haken)

    -- 'Plectics' (M. Gell-Mann)

    -- 'Holons' (A. Koestler)

    -- 'Holism' (J. Smuts)

    -- 'Self-organized Criticality' (P. Bak, S. Kauffman)

    I could go on and on but you get the point. Many of these ideas are old and tired, with new labels. Or they are tangenitally related, but in what way? So along comes M. Francois, and does this great work of compiling, and the publisher wants 500 bucks for it. Hmph!

    It's the "Information Age" if you have enough cash. If not, go on and wallow in your ignorance, I guess.

    Anyay... :-D :-D

    I get to choose my mood today, so I'm still going to color it "Happy". Thanks for bearing with my small and surmountable (i.e. temporary and conditional) gripe.
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  5. #4 You've got mail! 
    Forum Freshman Clyde's Avatar
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    I just got a copy of Francois' "International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics" (K.G. Saur, 1997), through Interlibrary Loan. From Minnesota, of all places.

    I now take back everything nasty I said about the "age of information". I racant.

    Yahoo! I am so psyched. Look out world. My head is going to swell like that guy in the animated movie "Megamind".
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  6. #5  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
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    http://chaosbook.org/
    I don't know how good it is, but it's free, and there's lot's of it.
    http://www.intechweb.org/books
    More free stuff that might interest you.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
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  7. #6  
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    Currently reading David Bohm's "Thought as a system" Published in 1992, right after he died. He has a very interesting method of analysis. He 'deconstructs' reality in front of your eyes, like a physicist (which he was) decomposing things like 'matter' and 'energy' into components which are strange and bizarre, yet there they are, apparently as 'real' as the baseball bat which we wield so confidently at the plate.

    Bohm is the opposite of a Warren McCulloch or Richard Feynman, who are very subjective and write with the audience in mind. To Bohm, there is no audience, only electrons and protons and 'pilot waves'. Human cognition, here, is subject to his deconstructive attention.

    It is hard to describe how disconcerting his syle is. All subjectivity is removed, and you find yourself in an alien landscape, looking back at yourself. Like an 'out-of-body' experience.

    I really love this guy (sez me upon my return to the comfortable cocoon of 'self').
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  8. #7  
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    http://www.wolframscience.com/ -- Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind Of Science, claimed by many to be unreadable. However, it's online free for the brave and the bold.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Freshman Clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lwpoet View Post
    Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science -- Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind Of Science, claimed by many to be unreadable. However, it's online free for the brave and the bold.
    I like Cosma Shalizi's review of Wolfram's book. Title: "A rare blend of Monster Raving Egomania and Utter Batshit Insanity". Shalizi knows a thing or two about cellular automata, so I have to at least take his critique under advisement.

    That said, I did read Wolfram's book and liked it immensely. A massive, no-holds-barred attempt to re-do scientific inquiry at its foundations.

    Wolfram doesn't seem to be a very likeable fellow but I find him interesting, from a safe distance. His new search engine is quite interesting. "Wolframalpha"

    Wolfram|Alpha: Computational Knowledge Engine

    You can find some really neat stuff using his search metric.
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  10. #9  
    jjg
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    Stuart Kauffman is probably the most important scientist in this field today and he has several books out. Harold Morowitz as well.
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