Re: Good Books on Chaos Theory

Nelson Minar (
Wed, 19 Aug 1998 16:19:23 -0400

>Rather than actually SHOP at Amazon, I thought it'd be worthwhile to ask
>the list if anyone has ever read any approachable Layman's books (that
>of course also appeal to the %3) on Chaos theory.

Ah, but the new buzzword is "Complexity"!

>The more I think about The Interconnectedness of Things(tm) the more I
>realize that networks are ecologies and therefore are subject to
>"emergent interactions" similar to biological organisms, like Joe's F1
>cars. Chaos theory has wonderful applications here, no?

Seriously, I think you might mean complex systems. Chaos tends to be
defined narrowly to continuous dynamical systems, whereas complex
systems work is more broadly defined to encompass the "fuzzy good
stuff" that you're referring to. In particular, emergence.

What to read? I wish there were a satisfying answer. IMHO, there isn't
really one good book on this stuff.

Opinions on Waldrop's book "Complexity" were generally positive at
SFI, although it's very much the biographical approach to explaining
science. (talking about people, not ideas). Gleick's "Chaos" is a
similar sort of tale, again more specifically focussed on dynamical

There's also Kaufman's book "At Home in the Universe" - most of the
people I know (not at SFI) have liked reading it. I would strongly
recommend reading papers from the first two Artificial Life Conference
proceedings, and especially Chris Langton's amazing introduction in
Alife I.

As for online stuff, I've been fairly disappointed in the quality of
what's available. The Self Organizing Systems FAQ has the right
questions in it, although I haven't read it closely enough to know if
the answers are very good. It's at