The SFI Press endeavors to make available the best of complexity science quickly and affordably, to provide a distillation of discussions, debates, and meetings across a wide range of topics. To change the way we think.

The Quark & the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple & the Complex

Murray Gell-Mann
SFI Press, 2023

The Santa Fe Institute celebrates one of its founders with a new edition of a seminal work by the late Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann. Originally published in 1994, The Quark & the Jaguar spans the simple and the complex, examining the relationship between the fundamental laws of physics and the complexity and diversity of the natural world. Neither autobiography nor scientific treatise, this uniquely personal and unifying vision reflects Gell-Mann’s broad expertise, curiosity, and passion for topics as disparate as archaeology, linguistics, child development, and computers.

Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann & the Revolution in Physics

George Johnson
SFI Press, 2023

Acclaimed science writer George Johnson brings his formidable reporting skills to the first biography of Nobel Prize-winner Murray Gell-Mann, the brilliant, irascible man who revolutionized modern particle physics with his models of the quark and the Eightfold Way.

Beautifully balanced in its portrayal of an extraordinary and difficult man, interpreting the concepts of advanced physics with scrupulous clarity and simplicity, Strange Beauty is a tour de force of both science writing and biography. This updated edition, with a new foreword by Douglas Hofstadter, includes reflections on the final years of Gell-Mann’s life and his influence on the Santa Fe Institute.

Complexity, Entropy and the Physics of Information, Volumes 1 & 2

Wojciech Zurek
SFI Press, 2023

The specter of information is haunting sciences. With these words, Wojciech H. Zurek invited fellow scientists to attend the 1989 Santa Fe Institute workshop on which this proceedings volume is based. Thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, the quantum theory of measurement, the physics of computation, dynamical systems, molecular biology, and computer science — information remains central to the 32 essays collected in this new edition of Complexity, Entropy & the Physics of Information.

Like the original meeting, this two-volume set explores the connections between quantum and classical physics, information and its transfer, and computation — and their significance for the formulation of physical theories. A newly written preface from attendee Seth Lloyd contextualizes the significance of this record of a meeting that marked the intersection of information, physics, complexity, and computation.

Ex Machina: Coevolving Machines & the Origins of the Social Universe

John H. Miller
SFI Press, 2022

Earth is full of examples of social behavior. When individual bacteria, insects, primates, and even self-driving cars make productive choices about their interactions with other individuals, that’s sociality. We can trace social behavior back to the unicellular organisms that became the building blocks for life on our planet. And humans, by becoming social, gained a great advantage in the evolutionary race for survival. If we could rewind Earth’s clock, would social behavior emerge yet again, and could we expect to find it elsewhere in the Universe? “Probably yes,” writes SFI External Professor John H. Miller, author of “Ex Machina: Coevolving Machines & the Origins of the Social Universe.”

The Complex Alternative: Complexity Scientists on the COVID-19 Pandemic

David C. Krakauer and Geoffrey West
SFI Press, 2021

COVID-19 is the virus that proved the fragility of the world. It took only the simplest form of life to shake the connectivity and dependency of society. This book is a real-time record and recommendation from a community of complexity scientists reacting to the pandemic. Through nontechnical articles, interviews, and discussions spanning the early days of the pandemic through the fall of 2021, researchers seek ways to stay responsive to complexity when every force conspires toward simplicity. The Complex Alternative encompasses immunology, epidemiology, psychology, inequality, and collapse. It is an effort to preserve perspective at a time when partiality seeks dominion.

Edited by David C. Krakauer and Geoffrey West, this book features the thoughts of more than sixty members of the Santa Fe Institute’s research community on the future of complexity science and the broader significance of science in the twenty-first century.

Agent-Based Modeling for Archaeology: Simulating the Complexity of Societies

Iza Romanowska, Colin D. Wren, and Stefani A. Crabtree
SFI Press, 2021

To fully understand not only the past, but also the trajectories, of human societies, we need a more dynamic view of human social systems. Agent-based modeling (ABM), which can create fine-scale models of behavior over time and space, may reveal important, general patterns of human activity. Agent-Based Modeling for Archaeology is the first ABM textbook designed for researchers studying the human past. Appropriate for scholars from archaeology, the digital humanities, and other social sciences, this book offers novices and more experienced ABM researchers a modular approach to learning ABM and using it effectively.

Readers will find the necessary background, discussion of modeling techniques and traps, references, and algorithms to use ABM in their own work. They will also find engaging examples of how other scholars have applied ABM, ranging from the study of the intercontinental migration pathways of early hominins, to the weather–crop–population cycles of the American Southwest, to the trade networks of Ancient Rome. This textbook provides the foundations needed to simulate the complexity of past human societies, offering researchers a richer understanding of the past—and likely future—of our species.

Learn more about Agent-Based Modeling for Archaeology

InterPlanetary Transmissions: Stardust

David C. Krakauer and Caitlin L. McShea, eds.
SFI Press, 2020

This volume is a record of the Santa Fe Institute’s second InterPlanetary Festival, nicknamed Stardust, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June of 2019. The InterPlanetary Festival fuses an exploration of complex systems and technological innovation with music, film, art, food, drinks, and more.

During the Summer of Stardust, as the world observed the fiftieth anniversary of the momentous Apollo 11 Moon landing, the Festival celebrated human ingenuity and pondered what the next half-century might hold. Conversations centered on building other worlds — imaginatively in literature, experimentally in simulation and games, and literally in architectural design. Attendees and panelists wrestled with topics as wide-ranging as time, the future of cities, and the meaning of intelligence.

In this book, transcripts of the Festival panel discussions, each paired with new introductions by contributors including physicist Sean Carroll, poet, artist, and curator Anaïs Duplan, and speculative-fiction writer Rebecca Roanhorse, commemorate the creativity and insight generated at this one-of-a-kind cosmic event.

Complexity Economics: Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute's 2019 Fall Symposium

W. Brian Arthur, Eric D. Beinhocker, and Allison Stanger, eds.
SFI Press, 2020

When Santa Fe Institute Scientists first started working on economics more than thirty years ago, many of their insights, approaches, and tools were considered beyond heterodox. These once-disparaged approaches included network economics, agents of limited rationality, and institutional evolution—all topics that are now increasingly considered mainstream. SFI continues to expand the boundary of our economic understanding by pioneering fields as diverse as collective intelligence and organizational scaling.

This volume, edited by W. Brian Arthur, Eric D. Beinhocker, and Allison Stanger, includes panel and talk transcripts from SFI’s 2019 Applied Complexity Network Symposium, with newly written introductions and reflections. Representing both scholarly and practitioner perspectives, this book explores the history and frontiers of complexity economics in a broad-ranging, accessible manner.

InterPlanetary Transmissions: Genesis

David C. Krakauer and Caitlin L. McShea, eds.
SFI Press, 2019

This volume is a record of the proceedings of the first InterPlanetary Festival, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June of 2018 by the Santa Fe Institute, birthplace of complexity science.

An annual free public event, the InterPlanetary Festival combines an exploration of complexity science and technological innovation with a summer festival full of music, film, art, food, drinks, and more. 

The Festival is just one aspect of the broader InterPlanetary Project, which is equal parts conference, festival, and research program. The first project of its kind to combine celebration with experimentation, and conversation with analysis, the InterPlanetary Project seeks nothing less than a whole-planet project—beyond borders, beyond politics, beyond economics—to activate the collective intelligence of our first planet: Earth.

The Energetics of Computing in Life and Machines

David H. Wolpert, Chris Kempes, Peter F. Stadler, and Joshua A. Grochow, eds.
SFI Press, 2019

Why do computers use so much energy? What are the fundamental physical laws governing the relationship between the precise computation run by a system, whether artificial or natural, and how much energy that computation requires? Can we learn how to improve efficiency in computing by examining how biological computers manage to be so efficient? The time is ripe for a new synthesis of nonequilibrium physics, computer science, and biochemistry.

This volume integrates pure and applied concepts from these diverse fields, with the goal of cultivating a modern, nonequilibrium thermodynamics of computation.


Law as Data

Michael A. Livermore and Daniel N. Rockmore, eds.
SFI Press, 2019

In recent years, the digitization of legal texts, combined with developments in the fields of statistics, computer science, and data analytics, have opened entirely new approaches to the study of law. This volume explores the new field of computational legal analysis, an approach marked by its use of legal texts as data. The emphasis herein is work that pushes methodological boundaries, either by using new tools to study longstanding questions within legal studies or by identifying new questions in response to developments in data availability and analysis.

By using the text and underlying data of legal documents as the direct objects of quantitative statistical analysis, Law as Data introduces the legal world to the broad range of computational tools already proving themselves relevant to law scholarship and practice, and highlights the early steps in what promises to be an exciting new approach to studying the law.

Emerging Syntheses in Science

David Pines, ed.
SFI Press, 2019

Santa Fe, October 1984. Many of the most accomplished creative minds in science—including four Nobel laureates—gather to create an institution unlike any other: where unconventional thinking flourishes and disciplinary boundaries fall away.

From this meeting emerged some of the most generative research programs of the last three decades, including the physics of living systems, the mathematics of society, quantitative archaeology, the nature of mind, fundamentals of complex systems theory—and the implications of all of these on the future. The original vision of a boundary-spanning research center became what Nature has called “that mecca of multidisciplinary complexity studies”: the Santa Fe Institute. This republished volume includes chapters from the scientific talks given at the founding meetings as well as never-before-published transcripts of the roundtable discussions.

Worlds Hidden in Plain Sight

David C. Krakauer, ed.
SFI Press, 2019

Over the last three decades, the Santa Fe Institute and its network of researchers have been pursuing a revolution in science. This volume collects essays from the past thirty years of research, in which contributors explain in clear and accessible language many of the deepest challenges and insights of complexity science.

Explore the evolution of complex systems science with chapters from Nobel Laureates Murray Gell-Mann and Kenneth Arrow, as well as numerous pioneering complexity researchers, including John Holland, Brian Arthur, Robert May, Richard Lewontin, Jennifer Dunne, and Geoffrey West.

The Emergence of Premodern States

Jeremy A. Sabloff and Paula L.W. Sabloff, eds.
SFI Press, 2018

Like many other sciences, archaeology is experiencing a data deluge. The recent accumulation of accessible data on early urban societies, coupled with the re-emergence of comparative studies, puts modern scholars in a position to make significant theoretical advances concerning the key episode of human social organization that provided the foundations of the contemporary world: the formation of the state.

A complex systems approach—pioneered at the Santa Fe Institute—involves fully interdisciplinary explorations of long-debated questions. Can basic quantitative analysis of human social evolution reveal macrocultural processes? Can we understand social cohesion by way of cultural genotypes? And does the emergence of social complexity involve the creation of new potential or the realization of latent human capabilities?

In this volume, many of the foremost experts in quantitative archaeology and anthropology leverage innovative methodologies—including agent-based modeling, network analysis, and theoretical applications of evolutionary biology—to push the field in new directions.

History, Big History, & Metahistory

David C. Krakauer, Kenneth Pomeranz, and John Gaddis, eds.
SFI Press, 2017

What is history anyway? Most people would say it’s what happened in the past, but how far back does the past extend? To the first written sources? To what other forms of evidence reveal about pre-literate civilizations? What does that term mean—an empire, a nation, a city, a village, a family, a lonely hermit somewhere? Why stop with people: shouldn’t history also comprise the environment in which they exist, and if so on what scale and how far back? And as long as we’re headed in that direction, why stop with the earth and the solar system? Why not go all the way back to the Big Bang itself?

There’s obviously no consensus on how to answer these questions, but even asking them raises another set of questions about history: who should be doing it? Traditionally trained historians, for whom archives are the only significant source? Historians willing to go beyond archives, who must therefore rely on, and to some extent themselves become, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, archeologists? But if they’re also going to take environments into account, don’t they also have to know something about climatology, biology, paleontology, geology, and even astronomy? And how can they do that without knowing some basic physics, chemistry, and mathematics?

This inaugural volume of the SFI Press (the new publishing arm of the Santa Fe Institute) attempts to address these questions via thoughtful essays on history written by distinguished scholars—including Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann—from across a wide range of fields.