As science probes the nature of life, society, and technology ever more closely, what it finds there is complexity. The sophisticated group behavior of social insects, the unexpected intricacies of the genome, the dynamics of population growth, and the self-organized structure of the World Wide Web - these are just a few examples of complex systems that still elude scientific understanding. Comprehending such systems seems to require a wholly new approach, one that goes beyond traditional scientific reductionism and that re-maps long-standing disciplinary boundaries. This remarkably accessible and companionable book, written by a leading complex systems scientist, provides an intimate, detailed tour of the sciences of complexity, a broad set of efforts that seek to explain how large-scale complex, organized, and adaptive behavior can emerge from simple interactions among myriad individuals.
In this richly illustrated work, Melanie Mitchell describes in equal parts the history of ideas underlying complex systems science, the current research at the forefront of this field, and the prospects for the field's contribution to solving some of the most important scientific questions of our current century.