An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Category: math (Page 1 of 10)

The End of Certainty – Ilya Prigogine

The End of Certainty by Ilya Prigogine provides insight into the natural processes which give rise to the novelty of life. Despite being published in 1997, there are so many great quotes and concepts which are still applicable today, that I will just say, “Read the book!” It will also help to read Stuart Kauffman’s book, Investigations, either before or after reading Prigogine’s book. Approaching from a different angle, Kauffman explores biological processes of nature which give rise to novelty and creative adaptive structures. Both books talk heavily about the dynamics of equilibrium and entropy. In the words of Prigogine, on page 67, “…matter at equilibrium is ‘blind,’ but far from equilibrium it begins to ‘see.'” Thus, non-equilibrium systems can think and observe the world, whereas systems in equilibrium are ignorant of all outside processes.

The approach of Prigogine lies in understanding the importance of Poincaré Resonances on dynamics and the construction/destruction of correlations at the microscopic level. How these resonances and these correlations behave leads to macroscopic features and the breaking of time symmetry. He deals with solving these Large Poincare Systems outside of the Hilbert Space; this is a concept which is important to biology and human social sciences. Because in these fields, we are always dealing with a system (human beings) which is far from equilibrium and behaves in novel and creative ways.

In other words, life, as  a non-equilibrium dissipative structure emerging from the non-living world, needs to be studied under the auspices of “The End of Certainty.” Irreversible processes and long range correlations are critical to understanding the development of self-organization and the novelty of life.

All social sciences deal with a biological organism (humans), which is a product of non-equilibrium processes. Even Prigogine and the book itself are correlated with the mass of knowledge produced by humanity in the 20th century. In other words, his ideas and those of all scientists are subject to the same non-equilibrium dynamics which Prigogine talks about in his book. Resonances and correlations in the social sphere can lead to amazing discoveries or a lack thereof.

One subject that I think could see development from Prigogine’s ideas is economics. Economics should be considered: “The study of non-equilibirum dissipative structures created by the self-organized social species known as homo sapiens, to reproduce and adapt in the biosphere called ‘Earth.'”

What I thought about the most was the concept of correlation creation and destruction. In terms of self-organizing systems and financial markets, perhaps crashes are correlation destruction events, while bubbles are correlations spreading through time. And after a crash occurs, correlations can be created which makes a crisis even worse.

The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence – Benoit Mandelbrot

I’ve been wanting to read The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence by Benoit Mandelbrot for a number of years. Mandelbrot helped to change the way people view financial market dynamics. This book is definitely a must read for people working in the financial industry. However, Mandelbrot was not the first. It is a little surprising that Mandelbrot did not talk in detail about the work of R.N. Elliott or Robert Prechter, among others, which I think complement Mandelbrot’s work on financial fractals. Patrick Harris wrote a short paper discussing whether Mandelbrot should have cited Elliott (link to paper).

To me, the idea of infinite memory processes is one of the most important concepts touched on by Mandelbrot in this book. It suggests that economists and traders should be developing models and theories which value the importance of price series and data going back decades. And it makes sense to me that people and prices do not change their fundamental behavior over extended periods of technological evolution. However, I suspect that organisms do change their fundamental behavior if the time horizon is thousands or millions of years. I am very curious to read more about Hurst’s studies of the Nile.

Dangerous Knowledge – David Malone BBC

Dangerous Knowledge, by David Malone, summarizes the work and life of some of the greatest thinkers in late 19th and 20th centuries. Includes the work and life of Cantor, Boltzmann, Godel, and Turing.

Watch it here: Dangerous Knowledge

Kondratieff Waves, Warfare and World Security: Volume 5 NATO Security through Science Series: Human and Societal Dynamics – T.C. Devezas

Kondratieff Waves, Warfare and World Security: Volume 5 NATO Security through Science Series: Human and Societal Dynamics by T.C. Devezas is what I am currently reading.

Fascinating to say the least.

Also, see: A Spectral Analysis of World GDP Dynamics: Kondratieff Waves, Kuznets Swings, Juglar and Kitchin Cycles in Global Economic Development, and the 2008–2009 Economic Crisis Korotayev, Andrey V and Tsirel, Sergey V.

Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy – Kip S. Thorne

It has been a long time since I read a book on astrophysics and I am now interested in Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy, by Kip S. Thorne. I hope this book will be thought provoking and fun to read.

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