Synopses & Reviews
Self-organized criticality, the spontaneous development of systems to a critical state, is the first general theory of complex systems with a firm mathematical basis. This theory describes how many seemingly desperate aspects of the world, from stock market crashes to mass extinctions, avalanches to solar flares, all share a set of simple, easily described properties. "...a'must read'...Bak writes with such ease and lucidity, and his ideas are so intriguing...essential reading for those interested in complex systems...it will reward a sufficiently skeptical reader." -NATURE "...presents the theory (self-organized criticality) in a form easily absorbed by the non-mathematically inclined reader." -BOSTON BOOK REVIEW "I picture Bak as a kind of scientific musketeer; flamboyant, touchy, full of swagger and ready to join every fray... His book is written with panache. The style is brisk, the content stimulating. I recommend it as a bracing experience." -NEW SCIENTIST
This is an acclaimed book intended for the general reader who is interested in science. The author is a physicist who is well-known for his development of the property called self-organized criticality, a property or phenomenon that lies at the heart of large dynamical systems. It can be used to analyse systems that are complicated, and which are part of the new science of complexity. It is a unifying concept that can be used to study phenomena in fields as diverse as economics, astronomy, the earth sciences, and physics. The author discusses his discovery of self-organized criticality; its relation to the world of classical physics; computer simulations and experiments which aid scientists' understanding of the property; and the relation of the subject to popular areas such as fractal geometry and power laws; cellular automata, and a wide range of practical applications.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -205) and index.