SFI and Princeton University Press have published the first two books in their collaborative series "Primers in Complex Systems." The first volume examines ant interaction networks and colony behavior; the second explores diversity and complexity.

Each serves as a coherent overview on its topic from a complex systems view while providing a scientifically accurate introduction to the topic’s core elements, including current theory, practice, examples, and future frontiers. The series is intended for non-specialists at the advanced undergraduate level or above.


Current volumes:

Ant Encounters: Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior, 184 pages

By SFI Science Board Member Deborah Gordon, Stanford University

How do ant colonies get anything done when no one is in charge? An ant colony operates without a central control or hierarchy, and no ant directs another. Instead, ants decide what to do based on the rate, rhythm, and pattern of individual encounters and interactions -- resulting in a dynamic network that coordinates the functions of the colony. Ant Encounters provides a revealing and accessible look into ant behavior from this complex systems perspective.

Deborah Gordon is professor of biology at Stanford University. She is the author of Ants at Work (Norton).

For more information and reviews of the book, visit the Princeton University Press listing.

Read a Stanford Daily feature article about Deborah Gordon.


Diversity and Complexity, January 2011, 296 pages

By SFI External Professor Scott Page, University of Michigan

This book provides an introduction to the role of diversity in complex adaptive systems. A complex system -- such as an economy or a tropical ecosystem -- consists of interacting adaptive entities that produce dynamic patterns and structures. Diversity plays a different role in a complex system than it does in an equilibrium system, where it often merely produces variation around the mean for performance measures. In complex adaptive systems, diversity makes fundamental contributions to system performance.

Scott Page is the Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies (Princeton).

For more information and reviews of the book, visit the Princeton University Press listing.


Upcoming volumes in the "Primers in Complex Systems" series:

Statistical Learning in Complex Systems

By Gregory Leibon, Scott Pauls, Dan Rockmore (SFI External Professor), and Robert Savell


Spin Glasses

By Daniel Stein (SFI Science Board Member) and Charles "Chuck" Newman