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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2002
This book can be read in two different ways:
The first one is intended for the uninitiated who wants to get an introduction to chaos and fractals; the way Schroeder guides you into the chaotic phenomenae that occur everywhere around us is clear, elegant and funny. He plays with chaos and makes the reader part of this game.
The second way to read this book includes a warning for scholars: This is not a textbook! The mathematical background used to explain this game is strong. Shcroeder lets the committed reader to work with the maths by himself, so you must have paper, pencil, and computer near to you in order to enjoy the book's whole potential, in this case Shcroeder has all the experience and knowledge on the matter to guide you through "this infinte paradise" in a very firm way.
The only thing I'd wish from this book was a new hardcover edition, I've read it so many times that my copy is getting very spoiled.
If you are still interested after reading this book, but you want a little help with your maths then I'd recommend "Chaos Theory Tamed" by Garnett P. Williams. It will do the trick. However if you just want to fall in love with chaos without complications, then you should read "Chaos: The Making of a New Science" by James Gleick.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2003
For the uninitiated! --The author combines insight with story telling. He has a story to tell, and does it well! Not only does he know the theory inside out, he has the ability to get accross the central points so it (almost) seems easy, in any case entertaining, using pictures (including cartoons), humor, and equations when they are needed. He further make clear the many fascinating links between chaos theory, algorithms, technology, and areas of pure math, such as number theory. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2000
What an excellent find! I'd been reading Per Bok's "How Nature Works" and realized I need a better grounding in the basics of fractal mathematics; this book turned out to be just the ticket.
Schroeder starst out with some simple, intuitive examples of curves and regions that do not scale to integral proportions, and from thse he develops and introduces the notion of the Hausdorf dimension of a curve. From there he introduces new concepts graphically- like Koch snowflakes and the Serpienski gasket- by first constructing them and then doing the analysis, introducing new concepts as needed to advance the illustration.
Often Schroeder starts with very non-geometric illustrations; his section on power laws begins with a discussion of language and word frequency, and from there he introduces Zipf's law, and then generalizes to characteristics of power law distributions in general- but not before treating the reading to a fascinating discourse on cognates and false cognates between languages- which he manages to weave into a discussion of self-similarity. Brilliant!
"Fractals, Chaos, Power Laws" could easily be used for a University-level introduction to fractal math, for graduate students or advanced undergrads- yet it's still readable enough to be a find introduction and entertainment to the reader with only a basic background in algebra and perhaps some calculus. The casual reader might not follow all the mathmatical arguments, but he or she could still glean much from this book. Highly recommended for the mathematically inclined looking for education or entertainment.
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on January 27, 2001
This book is a complete guide of all possible situations in science where you may encounter chaos. It provides for every situation an intuitive as well as very formal view of every problem and the corresponding solution. The main drawback concerns its relative inaccessibility for non-scientific people, it requires a quite important scientific background to understand the formal part. Anyway, even for the lay-man, it can be interesting to read, in order to understand the widespread of chaos and non-linearity in real-life situations, not just the purely scientific-related ones.
However, the treatment is terrific, with excellent description and explanations of the how's and why's, at an intuitive level as well as a very rigorous one ! I don't think i've ever read a book of such a high quality...
This book is worth its price, and without a doubt deserves the time you'll need to go through it.
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on December 30, 2000
If you've had some background in this kind of mathematics, or are otherwise familiar with concepts like limits and Lebesgue measure, you should thoroughly enjoy this well-written and good-humored introduction to fractals, chaos, and related topics. Do not, however, undertake to read this book as an easy introduction to those topics, because Schroeder uses a number of terms without bothering to define them, and covers a lot of ground in each chapter, from the perspective of a non-mathematician/physicist, at least.
For a shorter, gentler introduction to this material, I recommend R.L. Devaney's "Chaos, Fractals, and Dynamics: Computer Experiments...," which contains BASIC code to allow you to play with these systems on your computer. If that piques your interest enough, you can then turn to Schroeder's book for a broader and fuller treatment of these ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 1998
The book opens up ideas of wonderful depth, but isn't easy reading for those who hate equations. I would put this book in the top ten must read area for fractal people! Your unique Associates ID is: thefractaltransl
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on December 10, 2011
The explanation in this book could be better. The author certainly knows a lot, but he can never update this book to make it more whole. Not because it doesn't need to be but because the author died many years ago. I didn't think it was a good intro to fractals since many pieces of math simply cannot be applied more broadly as they are presented in this book. Overall, for the price it's not a bad book but there's better books out there on fractals, cellular automata and chaos.
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on June 22, 2000
One of the best introductory books I've ever read about the subject. A good example of multidisciplinarity and a bridge between theoretical and practical studies. The author does not avoid mathematics, allowing accuracy and complete explanations, and does not exceed, making the book readable to beginners.
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The best introductory book on fractals and chaos. It has a breath-taking wealth of topics, complete with the intuition behind them, the formulas, the drawings and pictures. A 'must read' for anyone who wants a serious introduction to these fascinating topics.
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