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I'm rather interested in getting my feet wet at the interface of complex systems and emergence. Can anybody give me references to some good books on these topics? I'm looking for very introductory technical books.

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Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please write substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book, paper or other resource. Explain the nature of the resource so that readers can decide which one is best suited for them rather than relying on the opinions of others. Answers containing only a reference to a book or paper will be removed!

@Dilaton. Perhaps it would be better to create one post for book recommendations of complex systems, and a separate post for book recommendations of information theory? It might not be constructive to keep them together. Also please crosscheck with the book recommendation topics that Phys.SE (and sister sites) already have. – Qmechanic Oct 13 '12 at 14:18

3 Answers 3

Maybe these three lectures about emergence could be interesting to get a first overview of the topic. Therein Prof. De Deo explains for example that emergence has a lot to to with what new phenomena can occurre when coarse graining (or renormalizing) microscopic degrees of freedom of a large system to obtain an effective (possibly including emergent phenomena) macroscopic description.

Background material to understand and deepen the wisdom about the concepts presented in these lectures can be found here. Among these resources is this book titled "Statistical Physics: Statics, Dynamics and Renormalization". It explains not only the statistical mechanics basics, but from the authors "interdisciplinery" point of view it includes topics such as renormalization, self-organized criticality complexity, and other things which are useful and important to understand emergence (as explained in the video lectures).

I've just read some chapters of this book, it is slightly technical and very accessible, and the style of writing makes me wanting to read the whole thing.

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I like the book Energy Landscapes by David Wales. It deals with various classes of complex systems (clusters, glasses, proteins) in the context of chemistry.

I want to add - emergence is fraught with flaky ideas; a lot of appeals to ignorance are rooted from the idea of irreducible complexity. So because we can't, say, predict the weather from $F=ma$, this means that God makes it happen.

If you're interested in something "bigger" than the chemistry of complex systems, I like the work of David Bohn (say, The Undivided Universe).

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