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Chaos: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 22 Feb 2007
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Leonard Smith's Chaos (part of the Oxford Very Short Introduction series) will give you the clearest (but not too painful idea) of the maths involved... There's a lot packed into this little book, and for such a technical exploration it's surprisingly readble and enjoyable - I really wanted to keep turning the pages. Smith also has some excellent words of wisdom about common misunderstandings of chaos theory... One of the best books so far in this useful and informative series. (popularscience.co.uk)
About the Author
Leonard Smith is Senior Research Fellow in Mathematics at the University of Oxford, where he lectures on nonlinear dynamical systems and chaos.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first chapter leaps directly into the concepts of deterministic nonlinear systems and sensitive dependence, and includes a wide-ranging discussion of the work of scientists including Laplace, Newton, Franklin and Darwin.
The second chapter explains exponential growth nicely, with several examples. Chapter 3 introduces examples of dynamical systems and their associated concepts. Here, new concepts such as state space, fixed points and attractors arise very rapidly and I wonder whether they have time to sink in for the reader who is not already familiar with them. Some of the new concepts are not clearly defined.
Chapter 4, 'Chaos in mathematical models', describes the universal period-doubling cascade, the Lorenz system, the Henon map, delay equations and Hamiltonian chaos. Again, too many models are introduced too rapidly. Chapters 5 and 6 cover fractals, dimensions and Lyapunov exponents, the measures of chaos, and the book then moves on to real numbers on a computer, statistics, predictability, weather forecasts, climate change and finance, ending up with some philosophical remarks.
Although I quite enjoyed reading this book, I would not recommend it as an introduction to the subject.
If you want a book that covers the subject in both more depth as well as gets across the concepts in a way that is understandable, and that will encourage an interest in the subject then consider Chaos: Making a New Science. If on the other hand you want to be confused and put off, this book will be just fine.
This is difficult for a first read on the subject because of the terminology and some of the concepts that physicists and mathematicians take for granted. As someone on the edge of the field this did not cause me problems but for anyone from outside of science this is going to be challenging. For me everything suddenly became clear and this book made it clear what questions I should be asking about my own simulations and models. It has inspired me to take a new view of how to understand the world around us. It has put models, simulations and noise into a different perspective and created a whole new avenue of research for me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You will get more from this book if you have a background in scientific / mathematical / technical subjects. Read morePublished on 9 Aug. 2011 by Schrodinger's cat
I once attended a lecture by the author and, despite his lively manner, wild hair, and all-over denim styling I was absolutely baffled within a few minutes. Read morePublished on 24 Jun. 2011 by Matthew Leitch
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