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Jul 1998
ISBN 0262062003
492 pp.
173 illus.
BUY THE BOOK
The Computational Beauty of Nature
Gary William Flake

"This book is a delight."
-- Barak Pearlmutter, University of New Mexico

"This delightful book illustrates beautifully the paradigm shift in physics from writing equations and solving them to computer modeling and experimentation."
-- Greg Chaitin, author of The Limits of Mathematics

"Simulation," writes Gary Flake in his preface, "becomes a form of experimentation in a universe of theories. The primary purpose of this book is to celebrate this fact."

In this book, Gary William Flake develops in depth the simple idea that recurrent rules can produce rich and complicated behaviors. Distinguishing "agents" (e.g., molecules, cells, animals, and species) from their interactions (e.g., chemical reactions, immune system responses, sexual reproduction, and evolution), Flake argues that it is the computational properties of interactions that account for much of what we think of as "beautiful" and "interesting." From this basic thesis, Flake explores what he considers to be today's four most interesting computational topics: fractals, chaos, complex systems, and adaptation.

Each of the book's parts can be read independently, enabling even the casual reader to understand and work with the basic equations and programs. Yet the parts are bound together by the theme of the computer as a laboratory and a metaphor for understanding the universe. The inspired reader will experiment further with the ideas presented to create fractal landscapes, chaotic systems, artificial life forms, genetic algorithms, and artificial neural networks.

Table of Contents
 Preface
1 Introduction
2 Number Systems and Infinity
3 Computability and Incomputability
4 Postscript: Computation
5 Self-Similarity and Fractal Geometry
6 L-Systems and Fractal Growth
7 Affine Transformation Fractals
8 The Mandelbrot Set and Julia Sets
9 Postscript: Fractals
10 Nonlinear Dynamics in Simple Maps
11 Strange Attractors
12 Producer-Consumer Dynamics
13 Controlling: Chaos
14 Postscript: Chaos
15 Cellular Automata
16 Autonomous Agents and Self-Organization
17 Competition and Cooperation
18 Natural and Analog Computation
19 Postscript' Complex Systems
20 Genetics and Evolution
21 Classifier Systems
22 Neural Networks and Learning
23 Postscript: Adaptation
24 Duality and Dichotomy
 Source Code Notes
 Glossary
 Bibliography
 Index
 
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