Phase Transitions

Princeton University Press
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Phase transitions--changes between different states of organization in a complex system--have long helped to explain physics concepts, such as why water freezes into a solid or boils to become a gas. How might phase transitions shed light on important problems in biological and ecological complex systems? Exploring the origins and implications of sudden changes in nature and society, Phase Transitions examines different dynamical behaviors in a broad range of complex systems. Using a compelling set of examples, from gene networks and ant colonies to human language and the degradation of diverse ecosystems, the book illustrates the power of simple models to reveal how phase transitions occur.

Introductory chapters provide the critical concepts and the simplest mathematical techniques required to study phase transitions. In a series of example-driven chapters, Ricard Solé shows how such concepts and techniques can be applied to the analysis and prediction of complex system behavior, including the origins of life, viral replication, epidemics, language evolution, and the emergence and breakdown of societies.

Written at an undergraduate mathematical level, this book provides the essential theoretical tools and foundations required to develop basic models to explain collective phase transitions for a wide variety of ecosystems.

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About the author

Ricard V. Solé is research professor and head of the Complex Systems Lab at Pompeu Fabra University and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He is the coauthor of Signs of Life (Basic) and Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 25, 2011
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781400838929
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / Applied
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
Science / Life Sciences / Ecology
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Life Sciences / Genetics & Genomics
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
Science / Physics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Can physics be an appropriate framework for the understanding of ecological science? Most ecologists would probably agree that there is little relation between the complexity of natural ecosystems and the simplicity of any example derived from Newtonian physics. Though ecologists have long been interested in concepts originally developed by statistical physicists and later applied to explain everything from why stock markets crash to why rivers develop particular branching patterns, applying such concepts to ecosystems has remained a challenge.

Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems is the first book to clearly synthesize what we have learned about the usefulness of tools from statistical physics in ecology. Ricard Solé and Jordi Bascompte provide a comprehensive introduction to complex systems theory, and ask: do universal laws shape the structure of ecosystems, at least at some scales? They offer the most compelling array of theoretical evidence to date of the potential of nonlinear ecological interactions to generate nonrandom, self-organized patterns at all levels.

Tackling classic ecological questions--from population dynamics to biodiversity to macroevolution--the book's novel presentation of theories and data shows the power of statistical physics and complexity in ecology. Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems will be a staple resource for years to come for ecologists interested in complex systems theory as well as mathematicians and physicists interested in ecology.

Can physics be an appropriate framework for the understanding of ecological science? Most ecologists would probably agree that there is little relation between the complexity of natural ecosystems and the simplicity of any example derived from Newtonian physics. Though ecologists have long been interested in concepts originally developed by statistical physicists and later applied to explain everything from why stock markets crash to why rivers develop particular branching patterns, applying such concepts to ecosystems has remained a challenge.

Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems is the first book to clearly synthesize what we have learned about the usefulness of tools from statistical physics in ecology. Ricard Solé and Jordi Bascompte provide a comprehensive introduction to complex systems theory, and ask: do universal laws shape the structure of ecosystems, at least at some scales? They offer the most compelling array of theoretical evidence to date of the potential of nonlinear ecological interactions to generate nonrandom, self-organized patterns at all levels.

Tackling classic ecological questions--from population dynamics to biodiversity to macroevolution--the book's novel presentation of theories and data shows the power of statistical physics and complexity in ecology. Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems will be a staple resource for years to come for ecologists interested in complex systems theory as well as mathematicians and physicists interested in ecology.

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