From bacteria to Bach and back; the evolution of minds

Daniel C. Dennett
W.W. Norton & Company, 2017

Scale; the universal laws of growth, innovation, sustainability, and the pace of life in organisms, cities, economies, and companies

Geoffrey West
Penguin Press, 2017


Publisher's Summary: 

Visionary physicist Geoffrey West is a pioneer in the field of complexity science, the science of emergent systems and networks. The term “complexity” can be misleading, however, because what makes West’s discoveries so beautiful is that he has found an underlying simplicity that unites the seemingly complex and diverse phenomena of living systems, including our bodies, our cities and our businesses.

Fascinated by aging and mortality, West applied the rigor of a physicist to the biological question of why we live as long as we do and no longer. The result was astonishing, and changed science: West found that despite the riotous diversity in mammals, they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of each other. If you know the size of a mammal, you can use scaling laws to learn everything from how much food it eats per day, what its heart-rate is, how long it will take to mature, its lifespan, and so on. Furthermore, the efficiency of the mammal’s circulatory systems scales up precisely based on weight: if you compare a mouse, a human and an elephant on a logarithmic graph, you find with every doubling of average weight, a species gets 25% more efficient—and lives 25% longer. Fundamentally, he has proven, the issue has to do with the fractal geometry of the networks that supply energy and remove waste from the organism’s body.

West’s work has been game-changing for biologists, but then he made the even bolder move of exploring his work’s applicability. Cities, too, are constellations of networks and laws of scalability relate with eerie precision to them. Recently, West has applied his revolutionary work to the business world. This investigation has led to powerful insights into why some companies thrive while others fail. The implications of these discoveries are far-reaching, and are just beginning to be explored. Scale is a thrilling scientific adventure story about the elemental natural laws that bind us together in simple but profound ways. Through the brilliant mind of Geoffrey West, we can envision how cities, companies and biological life alike are dancing to the same simple, powerful tune.

A crude look at the whole : the science of complex systems in business, life, and society

John H. Miller
Basic Books, 2016

Why greatness cannot be planned : the myth of the objective

Stanley, Kenneth O; Lehman, Joel
Springer, 2015

Arrival of the fittest : solving evolution's greatest puzzle

Wagner, Andreas
Current, 2014

Reality mining : using big data to engineer a better world

Nathan. Eagle; Kate Greene
The MIT Press, 2014

Complexity: a very short introduction (very short introductions)

John H. Holland
Oxford University Press, 2014

The importance of complexity is well-captured by Hawking's comment: "Complexity is the science of the 21st century". From the movement of flocks of birds to the Internet, environmental sustainability, and market regulation, the study and understanding of complex non-linear systems has become highly influential over the last 30 years. In this Very Short Introduction, one of the leading figures in the field, John Holland, introduces the key elements and conceptual framework of complexity. From complex physical systems such as fluid flow and the difficulties of predicting weather, to complex adaptive systems such as the highly diverse and interdependent ecosystems of rainforests, he combines simple, well-known examples -- Adam Smith's pin factory, Darwin's comet orchid, and Simon's 'watchmaker' -- with an account of the approaches, involving agents and urn models, taken by complexity theory. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Celebrating John H. Holland's 85th Birthday; a special present to John from his friends

Jan W. Vasbinder; Helena Hong Gao; Jing Han eds.
Mainland Press, 2014

Thirty-three essays and short stories to honor John Holland by relatives, friends, fellow scientists, and scholars.

Decision making and imperfection

Tatiana V. Guy; Miroslav Kárný; David Wolpert
Springer, 2013

Decision making (DM) is ubiquitous in both natural and artificial systems. The decisions made often differ from those recommended by the axiomatically well-grounded normative Bayesian decision theory, in a large part due to limited cognitive and computational resources of decision makers (either artificial units or humans). This state of a airs is often described by saying that decision makers are imperfect and exhibit bounded rationality. The neglected influence of emotional state and personality traits is an additional reason why normative theory fails to model human DM process. The book is a joint effort of the top researchers from different disciplines to identify sources of imperfection and ways how to decrease discrepancies between the prescriptive theory and real-life DM. The contributions consider: · how a crowd of imperfect decision makers outperforms experts' decisions; · how to decrease decision makers' imperfection by reducing knowledge available; · how to decrease imperfection via automated elicitation of DM preferences; · a human's limited willingness to master the available decision-support tools as an additional source of imperfection; · how the decision maker's emotional state influences the rationality; a DM support of edutainment robot based on its system of values and respecting emotions. The book will appeal to anyone interested in the challenging topic of DM theory and its applications.

Chaos and fractals; an elementary introduction

David P. Feldman
Oxford University Press, 2012

This book provides the reader with an elementary introduction to chaos and fractals, suitable for students with a background in elementary algebra, without assuming prior coursework in calculus or physics. It introduces the key phenomena of chaos - aperiodicity, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, bifurcations - via simple iterated functions. Fractals are introduced as self-similar geometric objects and analyzed with the self-similarity and box-counting dimensions. After a brief discussion of power laws, subsequent chapters explore Julia Sets and the Mandelbrot Set. The last part of the book examines two-dimensional dynamical systems, strange attractors, cellular automata, and chaotic differential equations.

The emergence of organizations and markets

John F. Padgett and Walter W. Powell
Princeton University Press, 2012

Metabolic ecology: a scaling approach

Richard M. Sibly, James H. Brown, and Astrid Kodric-Brown
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012

Publishers description: Most of ecology is about metabolism: the ways that organisms use energy and materials. The energy requirements of individuals - their metabolic rates - vary predictably with their body size and temperature. Ecological interactions are exchanges of energy and materials between organisms and their environments. So metabolic rate affects ecological processes at all levels: individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems. Each chapter focuses on a different process, level of organization, or kind of organism. It lays a conceptual foundation and presents empirical examples. Together, the chapters provide an integrated framework that holds the promise for a unified theory of ecology. The book is intended to be accessible to upper-level undergraduate, and graduate students, but also of interest to senior scientists. Its easy-to-read chapters and clear illustrations can be used in lecture and seminar courses. Together they make for an authoritative treatment that will inspire future generations to study metabolic ecology.

Signals and boundaries; building blocks for complex adaptive systems

John H. Holland
MIT Press, 2012

Complex adaptive systems (cas), including ecosystems, governments, biological cells, and markets, are characterized by intricate hierarchical arrangements of boundaries and signals. In ecosystems, for example, niches act as semi-permeable boundaries, and smells and visual patterns serve as signals; governments have departmental hierarchies with memoranda acting as signals; and so it is with other cas. Despite a wealth of data and descriptions concerning different cas, there remain many unanswered questions about "steering" these systems. In Signals and Boundaries, John Holland argues that understanding the origin of the intricate signal/border hierarchies of these systems is the key to answering such questions. He develops an overarching framework for comparing and steering cas through the mechanisms that generate their signal/boundary hierarchies. Holland lays out a path for developing the framework that emphasizes agents, niches, theory, and mathematical models. He discusses, among other topics, theory construction; signal-processing agents; networks as representations of signal/boundary interaction; adaptation; recombination and reproduction; the use of tagged urn models (adapted from elementary probability theory) to represent boundary hierarchies; finitely generated systems as a way to tie the models examined into a single framework; the framework itself, illustrated by a simple finitely generated version of the development of a multi-celled organism; and Markov processes.

The new economics of inequality and redistribution

Samuel Bowles
Cambridge University Press, 2012

Mapping Mongolia: situating Mongolia in the world from geologic time to the present

Paula L.W. Sabloff
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2011

Would marginalized countries such as Mongolia benefit from a reconfiguration of area studies programs or even from another way of thinking about grouping nations? This book uses Mongolia as a case study to critique the area studies methodology and test the efficacy of another grouping methodology, the "-scapes" method proposed by Arjun Appadurai. Could the application of this approach for tracing individuals' social networks by theme (finance, ethnicity, ideology, media, and technology) be applied to nation-states or peoples? Could it then prevent Mongolia from slipping through the cracks of academia and international diplomacy? Experts from ecology, genetics, archaeology, history, anthropology, and international diplomacy contemplate these issues in their chapters on Mongolia through the ages. Their work includes over 30 maps to help situate Mongolia in its geologic, geographic, economic, and cultural matrix. By comparing maps of different time periods and intellectual orientations, readers can consider for themselves the place of Mongolia in the world community and the relative benefits of these and other grouping methodologies.

The nature of computation

Cristopher. Moore; Stephan. Mertens
Oxford University Press, 2011

Computational complexity is one of the most beautiful fields of modern mathematics, and it is increasingly relevant to other sciences ranging from physics to biology. But this beauty is often buried underneath layers of unnecessary formalism, and exciting recent results like interactive proofs, cryptography, and quantum computing are usually considered too "advanced" to show to the typical student. The aim of this book is to bridge both gaps by explaining the deep ideas of theoretical computer science in a clear and enjoyable fashion, making them accessible to non computer scientists and to computer scientists who finally want to understand what their formalisms are actually telling. This book gives a lucid and playful explanation of the field, starting with P and NP-completeness. The authors explain why the P vs. NP problem is so fundamental, and why it is so hard to resolve. They then lead the reader through the complexity of mazes and games; optimization in theory and practice; randomized algorithms, interactive proofs, and pseudorandomness; Markov chains and phase transitions; and the outer reaches of quantum computing. At every turn, they use a minimum of formalism, providing explanations that are both deep and accessible. The book is intended for graduates and undergraduates, scientists from other areas who have long wanted to understand this subject, and experts who want to fall in love with this field all over again.

Principles of evolution : from the Planck epoch to complex multicellular life

Hildegard. Meyer-Ortmanns; Stefan Thurner
Springer, 2011

Manhattan Project to the Santa Fe Institute: the memoirs of George A. Cowan

George A. Cowan
University of New Mexico Press, 2010

Meaning and the lexicon: the parallel architecture, 1975-2010

Ray Jackendoff
Oxford University Press, 2010

Transistor rodeo: poems

Jon Wilkins
University of Utah Press, 2010

The annual Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry was inaugurated in 2003 to honor the late poet, a nationally recognized writer and former professor at the University of Utah, and is sponsored by the University of Utah Press and the University of Utah Department of English. Transistor Rodeo was selected as the 2009 prize-winning volume by judge Ander Monson, poet, essayist, author of The Available World and Vanishing Point, and editor of DIAGRAM.