Books on complexity theory and complex systems – Part I

Years ago, it was a serious challenge to find a book or an article about niche topics like complexity theory and complex system. Nowadays, we have another challenge: Which books are recommended to read for gaining a deep productive insight on complexity and complex systems among so many books and articles released every year on this topic?

Here’s a list of books I found helpful in learning more about the basics of complexity and complex systems. I hope it helps you too:

Complexity: The emerging science at the edge of order and chaos

The book written by Mitchell Wardrop provides an honest account of the founding of Santa Fe institute. One of the leading institutions with a major contribution in the development of the complexity theory.

Although the book is published on 1992, still it’s one of the best books to start with if you are going to study the field systematically.

Emergence: From chaos to order

This book is written by John Holland. One of the pioneers of the artificial intelligence and genetic algorithms. The book content is centered around life, mind and organizations. Three of the most important emerged entities in the history of evolution.

Considering the publishing date (1996), he has done a valuable effort to introduce the concept of emergence and to show us the mechanism by which complex behaviors are emerged from the repeated application of a few simple rules.

Here‘s a brief review of the book published by MIT.

Complexity: A guided tour

If you have time for reading just one book in the field of complexity, Melanie Mitchell’s guided tour would be the best choice. A fine blend of computer science, biology and information theory referring to a wide variety of cases from metabolism and genetic algorithm to the immune system and ant colonies.

You will love the book if you remember that you are invited to a guided tour and not to an official organised academic lecture on complex systems and complexity theory.

At home in the universe: The search for laws of self-organizing and complexity

Stuart Kauffman’s book on the complexity is not an easy read, but it’s one of the most vivid pictures drawn about the origins of life.

You may like to take a look at a very short summary of the book provided by the Stanford university.

Linked: How everything is connected to everything else

And as the last item on the first part of my list, if you are looking for a book to read in bed before sleeping with some flavors of complexity and emergence, Linked is one the best choices available.

The simplified non-mathematical yet precise and scientific descriptions of the networks and their emerging characteristic, makes it a good choice for an exciting tour to the world of complexity.

You will find many different examples from the AIDS proliferation to the internet traffic. You will not regret reading it.

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