- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Random House (5 April 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 140006256X
- ISBN-13: 978-1400062560
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.6 x 22 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,61,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity Hardcover – 5 Apr 2005
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For physicists, chaos is not just a common synonym for disorder. Elaborating on the difference, veteran author Gribbin conducts a historical excursion through chaos theory; his destination is the insights into the emergence of life that chaos theory supplies. Gribbin starts with the subject's mathematical roots in Newtonian physics, which was bedeviled by the three-body problem, so called for the difficulty of calculating three or more objects in motion. Without solving it, scientists could not prove that the solar system, for example, was stable. Gribbin explains how the great mathematician Henri Poincare proved that stable orbits could arise from a chaotic system, and he parallels Poincare's achievement with Ludwig Boltzmann's work on entropy. By the 1950s, finding self-organizing principles concealed in the blur of chaotic behavior lured the attention of many scientists, among them, Alan Turing, Benoit Mandelbrot, and Stuart Kauffman. Gribbin informs readers of their basic discoveries and the underlying mathematics, culminating with the relevance of chaos theory to biology. Gribbin gives a characteristically clear presentation of a challenging science. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Gribbin takes us through the basics [of chaos theory] with his customary talent for accessibility and clarity. [His] arguments are driven not by impersonal equations but by a sense of wonder at the presence in the universe and in nature of simple, self-organizing harmonies underpinning all structures, whether they are stars or flowers.”
–Sunday Times (London)
“Gribbins breathes life into the core ideas of complexity science, and argues convincingly that the basic laws, even in biology, will ultimately turn out to be simple.”
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I am truly amazed at how seemingly easy John Gribbin can take the same subject and explain it so eloquently and in very practical terms! In my view this is a perfect example of a great book (see Mortimer Adler's "How to Read a Book", a must for anyone who wants to read analytically) - it can teach most people something new and make your brain work at it.
Finally, I would not have stumbled upon this book if it wasn't for Charlie Munger (of Berkshire Hathaway fame) and his annual book recommendations at BRK's annual meeting. He is a wise man and this was a proof that it's worth listening to anything he says.
It's a quick and poignant subject survey. It is thoroughly applicable across scientific disciplines. It is by degrees overcome by events in specific areas of which the perpetual boogeyman of gravitational theory and the esoteric P versus NP problem of complexity have both evolved into a real world problems as revealed in collecting simple understandings of the expected LHC sensor outputs.
Gribbin provides a curious slant to order and chaos through an unfamiliar evolution and synergy among Newton's statics & dynamics through Maxwell's electromagnetics, Fourier's thermodynamics and the limits of mathematical philosophy in Poincare's `n-body' insolubility. I enjoyed the path that Gribbin's takes the reader to understand his argument. There are detours that the topically familiar reader will identify to depart, by degrees, Gribbin's conclusion. This in no way detracts from the Gribbin's effort, rather, Gribbin's argument is a springboard to further development. That there are newly emergent paths to consider after only 6 years of the book's publication speaks to the dynamic subject.
The physical sciences have evolved to require a `new' science for information extraction of the many constructs of physical, mathematical and logical operations to integrate in language that carries meaning. Gribbin's hits all around the requirement. Watching IBM's tour de force "Watson" demolish his human competition on Jeopardy through the application of knowledge algorithms is important in the premise Gribbin's initiates.
Read Deep Simplicity if for no other reason than gaining a better grasp of the mathematical power properties of complex systems and the significance and real world application of 1/f noise management.