Author's Evening: John Miller

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  • Complex Adaptive Social Systems: The Difference In Between, John Miller, Carnegie Mellon University and Santa Fe Institute, & Scott E. Page, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Santa Fe Institute:

Complex adaptive social systems represent some of the most intriguing theoretical and practical challenges confronting the social sciences. Meant to serve as an introduction to these systems, John Miller and Scott Page focus on the key concepts that have emerged in this area over the last decade or so, as well as the techniques needed to investigate such systems by providing a detailed introduction to the key concepts such as emergence, self-organized criticality, automata, networks, diversity, adaptation, and feedback.

By illuminating the interest in between the usual scientific boundaries and extremes, Miller and Page show how ideas from economics, political science, biology, physics, and computer science can be productively combined to understand better topics in organization, adaptation, decentralization, and robustness. Further, they show how the usual extremes used in modeling can be productively transcended allowing one to investigate systems composed of moderate numbers of interacting, thoughtful (but not perfect) agents across a variety of important domains, and outline a Twenty-First Century research agenda for the social sciences based on these ideas.

Nicely balancing technical detail with intuitive explanations, the work serves as a coherent, clear, and understandable introduction into complex adaptive social systems, suitable for both introductory courses and self-study. Along with scholars, business people and readers of more popular accounts in this area will find this book compelling.