Complexity: A Very Short Introduction
John H. Holland
It came as a surprise when Oxford University Press approached me to write a Very Short Introduction on complexity, and at first I was quite reluctant. I had just finished a book on complexity, aimed at a science-oriented audience, and revisiting the topic so soon was not appealing.
Two properties of the VSI series changed my mind: The book was to be aimed at a much broader audience—anyone, of whatever background, interested in complexity—and it was to be short. In addition, my colleagues unstintingly praise the whole VSI series, touting the books as providing easy, authoritative overviews to any topic in its long list. All in all, it was a challenge that was both daunting and intriguing. I decided to see what I could do.
A bit to my surprise, the process of writing this book substantially increased my own comprehension, even though I had been teaching courses on complexity, at various levels, for many years. As the final chapter of this book began to take form, I saw that topics I had previously taken to be well separated actually had much in common. Reducing the concepts to their simple underpinnings served to ‘glue’ them together. I can only hope that you, the reader, feel the same.
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