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Neil Johnson

Two's Company, Three is Complexity

Complexity is a subject which makes it into many popular science books, but this is often not written by those doing the research. Two's Company, Three is Complexity is a non-technical account of complexity science written by Neil Johnson, who is an active researcher in the subject. The book includes a look at the formation of crowds as well as anti-crowds. There are also chapters on traffic flow, on financial markets and on the difficulties of finding a partner. The study of biological networks is an important part of complexity science, and Johnson describes work on the distribution of nutrients in fungi as well as looking at work which may lead to new treatments for cancer. At the end of the book Johnson takes a look at quantum entanglement, and the new forms of complexity which this implies.

I felt, though, that this book doesn't present the subject in the most interesting way. Naturally a book like this should avoid too much mathematics, but instead Johnson seems to get bogged down with a metaphor about moivng a file up and down on shelves, which doesn't seem to lead anywhere. Also, I would have liked to hear more of the results of research - Johnson describes what work is being done, but there isn't so much of the sometimes counterintuitive outcomes one has come to expect from complexity science. I feel that the book would have been bette if had been written from a more personal viewpoint - what challenges Johnson has faced, who are the upcoming people in the subject, and the like. On the plus side, the book does have an extensive list of recent research papers, and if you were planning to read some of these then this book would be a useful intoduction to the subject.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 192 pages  
ISBN: 1851684883
Salesrank: 2129851
Weight:0.9 lbs
Published: 2007 Oneworld
Amazon price $7.50
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 192 pages  
ISBN: 1851684883
Salesrank: 1386346
Weight:0.9 lbs
Published: 2007 Oneworld Publications
Marketplace:New from £20.61:Used from £0.96
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 192 pages  
ISBN: 1851684883
Salesrank: 1648521
Weight:0.9 lbs
Published: 2007 Oneworld
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 34.07:Used from CDN$ 0.70
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Product Description
What do traffic jams, stock market crashes, and wars have in common? They can all be explained by complexity, an unsolved puzzle which is the most important scientific development since general relativity, and considered by many to be the 'Science of Sciences'. In Two's Company, Three is Complexity, Neil Johnson draws on his experience as a leading researcher in the field to explore the surprising ways in which order eventually emerges from the interaction of all things. Relevant across the whole breadth of social studies and science from pubs to plants, Johnson utilizes a wealth of real-life examples as he leads us on a brilliantly entertaining romp through chaos, game theory, economics, and even jazz, ultimately proving that complexity lies at the very heart of the Universe itself. The sheer scope and interdisciplinary nature of the subject means that those with backgrounds in physics, biology, engineering, computer science, economics, sociology, politics, business, or mathematics will appreciate the book's relevance to, and illumination of, their own field of interest. Lucidly written, this is the first publication to deal with complexity as a self-contained subject in its own right, and will be an indispensable reference for anyone seeking to step back and understand how order always emerges from the patterns and processes of every day life.