Category: Books

Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe: Steven Strogatz

From preeminent math personality and author of The Joy of x, a brilliant and endlessly appealing explanation of calculus – how it works and why it makes our lives immeasurably better.

Without calculus, we wouldn’t have cell phones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We wouldn’t have tamed AIDS or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket.

Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz’s brilliantly creative, down‑to‑earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it’s about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number—infinity—to tackle real‑world problems, breaking them down into easier ones and then reassembling the answers into solutions that feel miraculous.

Infinite Powers recounts how calculus tantalized and thrilled its inventors, starting with its first glimmers in ancient Greece and bringing us right up to the discovery of gravitational waves (a phenomenon predicted by calculus). Strogatz reveals how this form of math rose to the challenges of each age: how to determine the area of a circle with only sand and a stick; how to explain why Mars goes “backwards” sometimes; how to make electricity with magnets; how to ensure your rocket doesn’t miss the moon; how to cure infectious diseases.

As Strogatz proves, calculus is truly the language of the universe. By unveiling the principles of that language, Infinite Powers makes us marvel at the world anew.


Cancer: a complex disease

The study of complex systems and their related phenomena has become a major research venue in the recent years and it is commonly regarded as an important part of the scientific revolution developing through the 21st century. The science of complexity is concerned with the laws of operation and evolution of systems formed by many locally interacting elements that produce collective order at spatiotemporal scales larger than that of the single constitutive elements. This new thinking, that explores formally the emergence of spontaneous higher order and feedback hierarchies, has been particularly successful in the biological sciences. One particular life-threatening disease in humans, overwhelmingly common in the modern world is cancer. It is regarded as a collection of phenomena involving anomalous cell growth caused by an underlying genetic instability with the potential to spread to other parts of the human body.

In the present book, a group of well recognised specialists discuss new ideas about the disease. These authors coming from solid backgrounds in physics, mathematics, medicine, molecular and cell biology, genetics and anthropology have dedicated their time to write an authoritative free-available text published under the open access philosophy that hopefully would be in the front-line struggle against cancer, a complex disease.


Cancer: a complex disease
by Elena R. Alvarez-Buylla • Juan Carlos Balandran • Jose Luis Caldu-Primo • Jose Davila-Velderrain • Jennifer Enciso • Enrique Hernandez-Lemus • Lucia S. Lopez Castillo • Juan Carlos Martinez-Garcia • Nancy R. Mejia-Dominguez • Leticia R. Paiva • Rosana Pelayo • Osbaldo Resendis-Antonio • Octavio Valadez-Blanco


Inventing Future Cities: Michael Batty

How we can invent―but not predict―the future of cities.

We cannot predict future cities, but we can invent them. Cities are largely unpredictable because they are complex systems that are more like organisms than machines. Neither the laws of economics nor the laws of mechanics apply; cities are the product of countless individual and collective decisions that do not conform to any grand plan. They are the product of our inventions; they evolve. In Inventing Future Cities, Michael Batty explores what we need to understand about cities in order to invent their future.

Batty outlines certain themes―principles―that apply to all cities. He investigates not the invention of artifacts but inventive processes. Today form is becoming ever more divorced from function; information networks now shape the traditional functions of cities as places of exchange and innovation. By the end of this century, most of the world’s population will live in cities, large or small, sometimes contiguous, and always connected; in an urbanized world, it will be increasingly difficult to define a city by its physical boundaries.

Batty discusses the coming great transition from a world with few cities to a world of all cities; argues that future cities will be defined as clusters in a hierarchy; describes the future “high-frequency,” real-time streaming city; considers urban sprawl and urban renewal; and maps the waves of technological change, which grow ever more intense and lead to continuous innovation―an unending process of creative destruction out of which future cities will emerge.


The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You: Scott E. Page

From the stock market to genomics laboratories, census figures to marketing email blasts, we are awash with data. But as anyone who has ever opened up a spreadsheet packed with seemingly infinite lines of data knows, numbers aren’t enough: we need to know how to make those numbers talk. In The Model Thinker, social scientist Scott E. Page shows us the mathematical, statistical, and computational models–from linear regression to random walks and far beyond–that can turn anyone into a genius. At the core of the book is Page’s "many-model paradigm," which shows the reader how to apply multiple models to organize the data, leading to wiser choices, more accurate predictions, and more robust designs. The Model Thinker provides a toolkit for business people, students, scientists, pollsters, and bloggers to make them better, clearer thinkers, able to leverage data and information to their advantage.


Charting the Next Pandemic

This book provides an introduction to the computational and complex systems modeling of the global spreading of infectious diseases. The latest developments in the area of contagion processes modeling are discussed, and readers are exposed to real world examples of data-model integration impacting the decision-making process. Recent advances in computational science and the increasing availability of real-world data are making it possible to develop realistic scenarios and real-time forecasts of the global spreading of emerging health threats.

The first part of the book guides the reader through sophisticated complex systems modeling techniques with a non-technical and visual approach, explaining and illustrating the construction of the modern framework used to project the spread of pandemics and epidemics. Models can be used to transform data to knowledge that is intuitively communicated by powerful infographics and for this reason, the second part of the book focuses on a set of charts that illustrate possible scenarios of future pandemics. The visual atlas contained allows the reader to identify commonalities and patterns in emerging health threats, as well as explore the wide range of models and data that can be used by policy makers to anticipate trends, evaluate risks and eventually manage future events.

Charting the Next Pandemic puts the reader in the position to explore different pandemic scenarios and to understand the potential impact of available containment and prevention strategies. This book emphasizes the importance of a global perspective in the assessment of emerging health threats and captures the possible evolution of the next pandemic, while at the same time providing the intelligence needed to fight it. The text will appeal to a wide range of audiences with diverse technical backgrounds.


Charting the Next Pandemic
Modeling Infectious Disease Spreading in the Data Science Age
Ana Pastore y Piontti, Nicola Perra, Luca Rossi, Nicole Samay, Alessandro Vespignani