top of page

An Introduction to Complex Systems

Making Sense of a Changing World
Springer Nature 2019

“The text provides a useful overview of complex systems, with enough detail to allow a reader unfamiliar with the topic to understand the basics. The book stands out for its comprehensiveness and approachability. It will be particularly useful as a text for introductory physics courses. Tranquillo’s strength is in delivering a vast amount of information in a succinct manner. … A reader can find information quickly and efficiently—that is, in my opinion, the book’s greatest value.” (Stefani Crabtree, Physics Today, November, 2019)

From the Back COver

This book explores the interdisciplinary field of complex systems theory. By the end of the book, readers will be able to understand terminology that is used in complex systems and how they are related to one another; see the patterns of complex systems in practical examples; map current topics, in a variety of fields, to complexity theory; and be able to read more advanced literature in the field. The book begins with basic systems concepts and moves on to how these simple rules can lead to complex behavior. The author then introduces non-linear systems, followed by pattern formation, and networks and information flow in systems. Later chapters cover the thermodynamics of complex systems, dynamical patterns that arise in networks, and how game theory can serve as a framework for decision making. The text is interspersed with both philosophical and quantitative arguments, and each chapter ends with questions and prompts that help readers make more connections.

First Paragraph

Complex systems are all around us. Some were created by nature, such as ant colonies, gene networks, ecosystems, and brains. Others were created by us, such as political systems, stock markets, language, technology, and cities. In this book we will explore the interdisciplinary field of complex systems theory that aims to gain deep insights into how real-world systems work. Along the way, we will study tools that include chaos and fractals, game theory, networks, agent-based models and information theory. These tools will help us approach some important questions in new ways and find common patterns that appear in many systems. How do complex systems emerge or self-organize? How are they more than the sum of their parts? How do they develop and adapt but eventually decay? What does it mean for a system to be healthy or sick? What does it mean for a system to be diverse? Is it possible to intentionally design a complex system? Are there general principles that might apply to all complex systems?

bottom of page