Book Review

From Hugo Domic

Title: “Complex Adaptive Systems – An introduction to Computational Models of Social Life”
Authors: John H. Miller and Scott E. Page

By the Editor: “This book provides the first clear, comprehensive, and accessible account of complex adaptive social systems, by two of the field’s leading authorities.”
This is true!

Firstly this is not a book for Economics per se, although the authors use many Economic examples, Tiebout, Schelling models for example.

Secondly the concepts, ideas and discussions range from biology, physics, sociology, computer science to economics, this brings the reader to a very rich environment. I needed to be next to my computer when I was reading the book, so I could keep up with the authors travel into the different branches problems (e.g. remembering to count in binary). This is not a book one reads while on the beach, it requires some study, it not only requires but it deserves because we see that the authors did a great job to provide us the best overview of Complex adaptive systems available on the market.

Although the book is separated in five parts, I see it as a two parts work. Part I to Part III correspond to what I shall call the Introduction to the philosophy of Complex Adaptive systems, this is the more literary part of the book, it’s highly enjoyable and we learn a lot about the environment surrounding Complex adaptive systems.

Part IV on, was my favorite part of the book, I learn a lot from the simple examples given by the authors, I felt obliged to follow up every example in a more rigorous way -following the references- and I advise this to every reader, what the authors present sometimes is resumed to a “list” of results of some of their papers, or just some stylized facts about some model or result, so following through is really important and enriching experience.

The book has two Appendix, and they are very good! they are really a part of the book and not just some stuff the authors couldn’t put in the book, has sometimes we find.

For every Graduate Economist I highly recommend this book. To read it one needs an open mind and the availability to work on the book. It’s Worthwhile. Don’t forget that this is the path of Research for the Future.

(Be aware there is a high risk of getting too interested in this research area, so make sure you can still have time to study your classes!)

Hat tip to Nobuyuki Hanaki for recommending this book!

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