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Publisher's Summary

What enables individually simple insects like ants to act with such precision and purpose as a group? How do trillions of neurons produce something as extraordinarily complex as consciousness? In this remarkably clear and companionable audiobook, leading complex systems scientist Melanie Mitchell provides an intimate 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. Based on her work at the Santa Fe Institute and drawing on its interdisciplinary strategies, Mitchell brings clarity to the workings of complexity across a broad range of biological, technological, and social phenomena, seeking out the general principles or laws that apply to all of them.

Skillfully narrated, Complexity: A Guided Tour - winner of the 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science - offers a wide-ranging overview of the ideas underlying complex systems science, the current research at the forefront of this field, and the prospects for its contribution to solving some of the most important scientific questions of our time.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2011 Melanie Mitchell (P)2022 Echo Point Books & Media, LLC

What listeners say about Complexity

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not a Good Book for Audio

I'll start by saying I'm a big fan of Melanie Mitchell. I listened to her book on artificial intelligence, Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans, and loved it. When I saw that her 2009 book on complexity was coming out on audio, I couldn't wait to listen to it b/c it's a topic I'm fascinated by. I've read or listened to about 10 books on the topic, including Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos (a fabulous book), Gleick's Chaos: Making a New Science (another great book which I recently reread after first reading it and not fully understanding it when it first came out in 1987), Geoffrey West's Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life, in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies, Strogatz's Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life, and several others.

So, I thought Melanie Mitchell's Complexity book would be perfect b/c she did an amazing job w/her highly sophisticated primer on AI without dumbing it down and she has a deep background in complexity science through her years at Santa Fe Institute (the epicenter of complexity science). Unfortunately, her Complexity is not a great book for LISTENING b/c it's loaded w/numbers and formulas which are really difficult to process (for me at least) in audio format. I returned the book after listening for 3hrs (thanks Audible) b/c it didn't appear that numeric and formula references/reading were going to change.

Complexity is a field rich w/formulas, constants, and other variables. Some lend themselves well to explanation (eg, power laws) but others require a dive into the formulas.

I'm giving it 4 stars b/c in written format, it's probably wonderful and it's unfair to ding Ms MItchell for writing a great book that doesn't do wonderfully in audio format.

If you're not familiar with Complexity, I'd highly recommend starting with Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. The book not only explains how complexity science came about and the cross discipline scientists (eg, physicists, biologists, economists, meteorologists...) who were involved in its creation but also what it is and why understanding complexity science is so relevant today.

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Interesting but not appropriate for an audiobook

I gave up half way through. Although the material is often fascinating, the math and computer code, although not complicated, can't be adequately understood as the audio flows by. As others have noted, this is not suited to the audiobook format. I would consider reading a text version.