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on 1 November 2001
This book is not solely about StarLogo, but it does feature quite prominently. Its main function is to introduce modelling decentralised systems, and it does this using the StarLogo language.
The book is highly readable and covers the basics very well, and delves into some of the more advanced topics as well. A student learning to model systems could do a lot worse than get this book as the starting point. Combine it with 'Adventures in Modeling' and you've pretty much got yourself a good course is modelling, as well as all the software you need.
One minor caveat is that the examples in the book do need some minor modification to work with the latest version of StarLogo, but this is explained on the website. On the whole though, I think it is an excellent book.
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on 27 January 2000
This book is *not* mainly about StarLogo.
The author firstly gives an account of the current trend toward decentralised models in different contexts. I found these first couple chapters enjoyable but wasn't completely convinced by the arguments and examples presented. I felt that the author had stretched reality a little to fit nicely to his ideas. There were very interesting and fresh observations even in those chapters, though.
Don't be put off by the apparently technical nature - this is a very accessible book that explains ideas in a clear and understandable manner. Remarkably, you can get a lot out of the book even if you don't look at (or understand) the StarLogo program listings.
Resnick provides plenty of external references so that you can go and find out more about topics you find interesting. I am, however, a little disappointed that he did not provide a list of general introductory references. People who stumble across this book may want to find out more but be discouraged by the difficulty of some of the referenced text.
I don't believe that there is a particular intended target audience but I'd recommend this as reading for all. Parents, children, and educators especially should find the main ideas (implied and explicit) fascinating. They should be able to use it as a start of exploration into different ways of looking and thinking about the world.
The book is by no means a comprehensive text on decentralised (complex) systems or on emergent behaviour but is a good way to get excited about those ideas!
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on 3 August 1999
This book is mainly about Star Logo, an extension to the Logo language, you know, this program with a turtle strolling around, for children to get acquainted with computers and plane geometry.
Star Logo has much more features, allowing easy yet sounding powerful implementation of decentralized system, which one famous instance is cellular automaton, and some specific others in the book are ant colonies behavior, forest fires or traffic jams, with the cell of cellular automata being replaced by the notion of an "agent" (less known it seems to the public).
If you need a book for Star Logo, this is the one to get, but if you are looking for artificial life and self organization alone, don't get it.
Excellent bibliography.
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on 14 December 1998
The study of complex systems is a little too trendy at the moment to be conducive to good science. Many of the popular books on the topic are full of entertaining speculation and little reliable information.
Resnick takes a more humble and more successful tack, starting with a simple world model (parallel turtles!) and developing surprising insight into such phenomena as ant behavior and traffic jams. This book might change the way you think.
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on 26 May 1999
The book starts off slow but quickly builds on the principles discussed. I found many chapters fascinating. The book shows how the actions of simple organisms - termites and ants, can build into systems much more complex than the sum of their parts. The decentralized way of thinking helps in understanding the actions of things such as stock markets and the economy.
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