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Think Complexity by Allen B. Downey

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Appendix B. Reading List

In my class, we start the semester by reading popular books about complexity science. They provide a pleasant way to get a big picture of the field and start to see connections between topics.

One problem with these books is that they are written for a non-technical audience, so after a while the students get frustrated by the vagueness and hand-waving. That’s what this book is for.

The other problem is that students can’t read 30 books in a week, or even a semester. Instead, I provide one copy of each book and ask the students to pick one, read the first chapter, write a summary, and post it on the class web page.

During the next class session, the students swap books. Each student reads the summary written by the previous student, then reads the next chapter, and writes a summary.

After a few iterations, we have a class discussion where students report what they have read so far and we look for connections. For example, one student might present a topic, then another student suggests a related topic and explains the relationship. I draw the topics and the relationships between them on the board (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concept_map).

We repeat this exercise until we have seen what there is to see, or we are impatient to get down to business.

You can see the list of books and read the summaries my students wrote at https://sites.google.com/site/compmodolin.

Here are the books:

  • Axelrod, Complexity of Cooperation

  • Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation

  • Bak, ...

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