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Chance and Chaos (Penguin Science) [Paperback]

David Ruelle


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Book Description

17 May 1993 Penguin Science
How do scientists look at chance, or randomness, and chaos in physical systems? In this study, David Ruelle explores game theory, probability, classical chaos and quantum uncertainty among many other topics. Since many systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions, the consequences of tiny exchanges in the variables can be enormous. Ruelle applies this insight to the understanding of turbulence, "strange attractors", entropy, black holes, information and intelligence.


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"Step by step, Mr. Ruelle introduces concepts needed to understand the physical landscape of chance and chaos, explaining the meaning of probability, the ways of turbulent fluids, and the mathematical value of information. . . . Throughout, Chance and Chaos is spiced with the author's dry wit and unsparing judgments about scientists and science. . . . [This is] an expertly guided tour of some of the fundamental issues in the world of physics."--David Voss, The New York Times Book Review

". . . by one of the founders of the rapidly developing field of nonlinear dynamics and chaos. . . . The book is a tour de force."--Malcolm S. Longair, Natural History

"Sets out the basics with precision, concision, and humor. . . . [Some books], perhaps the best books, are to be read for the pleasure of the author's company. Ruelle's book falls into [that] category."--Tony Rothman, The New Republic

"The book is an excellent read, either at one gulp or as chapter-by-chapter snacks."--Robert M. May, Nature

"A deep, thoughtful book, simply written, and a joy to read."--Ian Stewart, The Times Higher Education Supplement --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to chaos theory 5 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's nice to be hearing how a physicist places chaos theory in its place amongst possible explanations for natural phenomena. He doesn't oversell chaos, and doesn't undersell it. Not too big a tome -- a good read.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruelle's Chance and Chaos 1 April 2000
By Osher Doctorow, Ph.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the best popular book on chaos, dynamic systems, and entropy that I have ever read, by one of the pioneers of this field. I have remarked in my reviews of Gribbin, Kaku, and others that Creative Geniuses in science (unlike Ingenious Followers who are so abundant) inspire others and themselves often by popularizing science in ordinary English. It is a good sign if they do this often, but sometimes they only do it seldom or never. Ruelle, as far as I know, only did it once, in this book, and the reader who loses the opportunity to obtain this book has lost a classic. Ruelle inspired me at an important place in my career (my fields are related to the probability-logic-entropy-physics interface). I am especially fond of recalling his description of how extremely new creations or inventions are typically received in science: journal reviewers will usually contradict each other in their haste to oust the newcomer. There are still journals which do not touch chaos, entropy, dynamic systems, fractals, not to mention my own field of logic-based probability.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bit chaotic after all 19 Jan 1998
By Sergio B. Volchan(volchan@saci.mat.puc-rio.br) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Interesting book but it tries to cover too much material some of which cannot be adequately grasped without the maths (though some of the explanatory notes help). It also ends with some worn out admonitions about the future of humanity and such stuff which plagues science popularization books.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What people did before there was Wikipedia to compulsively browse 2 Sep 2009
By Chris Edwards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was an odd book from my perspective. It's a bit old now and after reflecting on the experience of reading it, I have figured out what it's purpose was. Books like this are basically what people who like to randomly browse Wikipedia read before there was Wikipedia. It wasn't really a serious treatment of "Chance" or "Chaos". There were quite a huge number of topics for such a small book. He covers game theory, turbulence, economics, history, genetics, quantum mechanics, Goedel's Theorem, entropy, algorithmic complexity, and on and on. Reminds me a bit of Asimov. How successful was he at actually delivering the right dose of this kind of collection of topics? Well, I frequently felt I was at the wrong level, either by knowing too much or too little. But regardless of what one gets from this, it's helpful to know that it is really a very diverse book and not tightly focused on "Chance and Chaos". That title more accurately describes the process the author used to select material to write about.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simple, elegant, and witty insights and explanations 5 Aug 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
David Ruelle provides the reader of any level with an extremely readable overview of his pursuits of chaos theory. As a student of sociology, I found his study of physics captivating, especially with his connections between physical theory and sociology, economics, astrology, theology, and, well, sex. It's a quick and easy read, very understandable with little physics/math background. I recommend it to anyone who likes to think about new ways of viewing and understanding the world
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