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sábado, abril 07, 2007

Complexidade é simples!


Alexandre, que tal comprar este livro para dar para os estudantes lerem?

Uma resenha na Amazon:

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful:

The science of chaos and complexity explained clearly--FINALLY!!!, January 26, 2006
Reviewer:Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
+++++

This book, by astrophysicist John Gribbin, gives us insight into the concepts of "chaos" and "complexity." Chaos occurs when a small change in the starting conditions of a process produces a big change in the outcome of that process. A complex system is one that is chaotic, and in which the way the system develops feeds back on itself to change the way it is developing.

Is there an order or a simplicity that underlies chaos and complexity? According to Gribbin, there is. He states, "the great insight is that chaos and complexity follow simple laws-essentially the same simple laws discovered by Isaac Newton more than three hundred years ago." Gribbin goes on to make this startling statement:

"Chaos begets complexity, and complexity begets life."

So what is the theme of this book? Answer: "It is the simplicity that underpins complexity, and thereby makes life possible, that is the theme of this book."

The first three chapters tell us about Chaos. They are titled as follows:

(1) Order (or simplicity) out of chaos
(2) The return of chaos
(3) Chaos out of order

The next chapter introduces another important concept. It's titled:

(4) From chaos to complexity

The next two chapters introduce and discuss the most complex system of all. They're entitled:

(5) Earthquakes, (mass) extinctions, and emergence (of life)
(6) The facts of life

The final chapter looks into the biggest question facing science today: "Is there life beyond Earth, elsewhere in our Solar System, or out in the Universe at large?" The title of this chapter is:

(7) Life beyond

Throughout the book, Gribbin reveals how these revolutionary theories of chaos and complexity have been applied over the last two decades to explain all sorts of different, seemingly unrelated phenomena: from traffic jams and the stock market to weather patterns, the formation of galaxies, and the evolution of life. To make the book even more readable and interesting, all these ideas are put in their proper historical context.

There are over 35 illustrations (in the form of graphs, diagrams, etc.) that I found were helpful in visually describing key concepts.

There is also a short but invaluable glossary that I found to be very beneficial. In fact, it is from here that I obtained the above definitions of chaos and complexity.

Who is this book written for? I would say anybody interested in chaos and complexity. However, because Gribbin includes a wide range of scientific disciplines-from biology to physics and computing, meteorology to cosmology-I would recommend having a general scientific background. As well, knowledge of basic mathematics would help.

Finally, the only problem I had with this book is that each chapter is written as one, long narrative with no breaks. I feel that it would have been beneficial to have each chapter divided into subsections to ease reading.

In conclusion, this is a well-written book on what can be a difficult subject. If you want to learn the principles behind chaos and complexity, then this is the book to read!!

(first published 2004; acknowledgements; list of illustrations; introduction; 7 chapters; main narrative 250 pages; glossary; references; index)

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