• Systems Thinking and Chaos

  • Simple Scientific Analysis on How Chaos and Unpredictability Shape Our World (And How to Find Order in It)
  • By: Albert Rutherford
  • Narrated by: Russell Newton
  • Length: 2 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Science & Engineering, Science
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Understand the complex human factors challenges associated with change. Increase your tolerance to uncertainty. 

“Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future." (Edward Lorenz)

We can encounter chaos in every system around us - even the smallest and simplest ones. Any system can fall into chaos, which prevents us to accurately predict its behavior. Even a small change in the initial conditions can lead to unexpectedly large-scale consequences. Therefore, we can often enter in panic, blame actors for events they are not responsible for, and our sense of security in the world can generally decrease. 

This book is a primer to nonlinear system dynamics and chaos where the author presents analytical methods through real-life examples and easy mathematical calculations. By the time you listen to this book, you’ll understand why some events are out of human control, but there are still ways to manage and live with unpredictability and chaos.

The book is structured systematically, starting with differentiating linear and nonlinear systems, first-order differential equations, bifurcations, phase transition analysis, oscillations, chaos, iterated maps, period doubling, fractals, and strange attractors.

Systems Thinking and Chaos sheds light to why sometimes life sometimes unfolds counterintuitively to expectations, how small changes can lead to tremendously big ones over time.

  • Learn the difference between linear and nonlinear systems.
  • Deepen your knowledge about the additivity and homogeneity principle.
  • How to use synergy and interference in real life?
  • What are feedback loops and how can they generate equilibrium?

Explore and fix the “problems that never seem to go away”.

  • Learn about the importance of exponentials, power law, and long tail distribution.
  • Detailed introduction to chaos theory and the butterfly effect.
  • Phase transitions, bifurcation, and strange attractors.
  • Discover the world of fractals.

Our beliefs are veritable lenses, which enable us to see, to analyze, to understand the world around us. But the beliefs that in the past helped us to see the world no longer do so, because the world has changed much too fast for our lenses to adapt. Chaos theories provide new lenses we need to understand our fast-phased, chaotic world. 

Get introduced to the world of chaos. Learn about the Raleigh-Benard instability, Metcalf’s Law, Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect, Benoit Mandelbrot’s concept of fractals, the Koch snowflake, and others.

©2019 Albert Rutherford (P)2019 Albert Rutherford

What listeners say about Systems Thinking and Chaos

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Head and shoulders above other recent short titles

There is substance here. It is well-written and well-performed. Scarcely a word is wasted. Insights in the topic tumble out from the git-go. (I also like the Great Courses title, "Understanding Complexity.") The limited bit of math here is simple and accessible. This is in a whole different class from the endless flood of short-title trash appearing in this site day to day lately.

4 people found this helpful

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Short, Sweet, and Powerful

Before beginning, I'll let you know that I have a math degree and have studied dynamical systems, complexity, and chaos theory before reading this book. I've also read other books on the subject before this one. Although it does not require any math knowledge beyond a middle- or high-school level to enjoy, the subject matter presented here is deep and thought-provoking.

That said, I was delighted by this wonderfully succinct treatment of the subject matter, complete with real-world examples and comparisons. The author has done a phenomenal job of delivering a great deal of information, yet compressing it into a fascinating experience that keeps up the pace and moves us along. I was actually disappointed when it was over, because I wanted more. This is a great book for both beginners and advanced students of the subject alike: beginners, because it presents the critical information in easily digestible steps. For advanced readers/listeners, the author continuously slips in thought-provoking gems that had me hitting the pause button more than a few times to digest and then apply to some of my own research.

The narrator has a clear, deep voice. There were a few stilted moments, especially in the beginning, where the audio engineering left me wondering whether the reading had been mechanically synthesized or actually performed by a human. (It smoothed out later, assuring me that a real human being was narrating.) I'm not saying it was bad, though. The reading style was always clear and paced well. To the narrator's credit, he also read the math correctly! I can't say enough how much I appreciated that. I often regret buying audio books on technical subjects because the narrators sometimes lack a background in the subject matter (for example, rather than correctly pronouncing the function f(x) as "f of x", they read it literally as "f open parenthesis x closed parenthesis"). This narrator even pronounced Poincare's name with a decent French accent!

I understand that this author has also written a 6-book series on the subject matter. That will be my next read (or listen). I'm eager to hear more from Mr. Rutherford and am grateful I found this book. Thank you!

2 people found this helpful

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"What has been is what will be" (Ecc 1:9)

This book gave me an additional perspective to consider when examining earthlings' behavior and interactions. Thank you.

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Concise, vibrant, flowing

This is a wonderful summary of complex topics. Without attempting to oversimplify, the author trims down each topic to its interactive essence and does so engagingly. The story is as alive as a swift riparian flow.

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A well meant attempt to explain interesting math

If you are interested in math and need a starting point consider this as an introduction to nonlinear and fractal theory.

If you are interested in systems analysis and information theory this is essentially worthless ... move on.

The narrator was poorly coached and could not even pronounce key terms like hysteresis correctly, poor QA on the producer's part.