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Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks (The Frontiers Collection) [Hardcover]

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Item description for Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks (The Frontiers Collection) by Peter Csermely...

Why do women stabilize our societies? Why can we enjoy and understand Shakespeare? Why are fruitflies uniform? Why do omnivorous eating habits aid our survival? Why is Mona Lisa's smile beautiful? - Is there any answer to these questions? This book shows that the statement: "weak links stabilize complex systems" holds the answers to all of the surprising questions above. The author (recipient of several distinguished science communication prizes) uses weak (low affinity, low probability) interactions as a thread to introduce a vast variety of networks from proteins to ecosystems. Many people, from Nobel Laureates to high-school students have helped to make the book understandable to all interested readers. This unique book and the ideas it develops will have a significant impact on many, seemingly diverse, fields of study.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   392
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 28, 2006
Publisher   Springer
ISBN  3540311513  
ISBN13  9783540311515  

Availability  0 units.

More About Peter Csermely

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Peter Csermely (47) is a professor at the Semmelweis University in Budapest. A former Fogarty Fellow at Harvard University, his main fields of study are molecular chaperones and networks. In 1996 Dr. Csermely launched a highly successful initiative providing research opportunities for more than 7000 gifted high school students. He also established the Network of Youth Excellence,, promoting similar activities in 33 countries. He has published nine books and more than 170 research papers. Dr. Csermely holds several distinguished appointments including Vice-president of the Hungarian Biochemical Society and has been recipient of numerous international fellowships and awards, for example the 2003 Science Communication Award of the European Molecular Biology Organization and the 2004 Descartes Award of the European Union for Science Communication.

Peter Csermely has an academic affiliation as follows - Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Sciences > Biological Sciences
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8Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biochemistry
9Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > General
10Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology
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Reviews - What do customers think about Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks (The Frontiers Collection)?

Interesting topic, but annoying writing style  May 9, 2008
This is a very interesting topic, but I was very frustrated by the authors writing style.

He puts statements out there with very little explanation or supportive arguments. I feel like there are holes all over.

At times he comes across as condesending, yet at other times, he is very difficult to follow.

Sometimes he treats subjects as a big break through or completely new when I have read the same ideas in many other books.

It is hard to put my finger on exactly why, but this is the most annoying systems book I have ever read.
Weak Links  Nov 29, 2007
I've just finished reading "Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks" by Peter Csermely , who is a Professor of Biochemistry at the Semmelweis University of Budapest. The central theme is weak links are the determinants of system stability and diversity. Csermely defines a link "as 'weak', when its addition or removal does not change the mean value of a target measure at a statistically discernible way" (p. 83).

The book is an interesting read if only because its topic matter ranges from network complexity in physical systems, to biological systems, and finally social and cultural systems. Personally I think there are a few longbows drawn, but in fairness Csermely does clearly indicate where he is engaging in speculation. One fascinating discussion was the discourse on pink noise. Pink noise is also known as coloured noise, flicker noise, crackling noise and Barkhausen noise. Seemingly pink noise is present in systems as diverse as solar flares, traffic flows and group decision making, and has a stabilising or relaxing effect. Quoting several scientific sources he postulates that pink noise helps neural synchronisation, which is partly responsible for memory formation. To put it another way if you want to memorise something have Mozart playing in the background rather than bagpipes, because Mozart's music has pink noise properties!

Csermeley's discussion on immunological networks is also interesting. He says an immune system has to solve four problems:

the self/ non-self recognition problem;
the signal to noise problem;
the context problem; and
the response problem.

Now this is interesting because the later three points define the knowledge retrieval problem of a knowledge management system. Apparently weak links are the immune system's mechanism to solve these problems.

A software package typically consists of several hierarchical and modular components, which are bound by strong links. Taking a lesson from the immune system perhaps we need to build software with lots of weak links, and ensure our people and process dimensions also have many weak links? Perhaps these weak links will allow the percolation of knowledge through the human, process, and technology systems. Perhaps our real problem with knowledge management is we try to over-engineer everything and in so doing build strong links rather than weak links. I'm beginning to think weak links matter.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in networks.

Regards, Graham
Primer on real-life networks with a theme   Feb 2, 2007
If you ever needed another good reason to value your grandmother even more, you'll find the answer in "Weak links".

Structurally, his book starts with an exposition on network theory and
terminology, then the application and discussion of these concepts to
real-life complex systems on many scales and applied to many domains (physical, natural, technological, social). His main point is, as the reviewer noted above, that 'weak' links (weak: additional/removal does not statistically affect the average of some metric) stabilize systems.

The book has thorough footnotes, one can delve as deep as one would like
into the professional papers. In addition, Csermely is an honest scholar - he shows his hands when there is mere speculation (you have to see the book's unique pictograms to appreciate the effects)

After pouring through several alternatives, I have adopted this book as a
textbook for my Science of Networks class (I'm CS fac at an elite US liberal arts school), and I recommend it to anyone without hesitation for a readable, and learned exposition.

I only have two or three caveats from a specialist's point of view: The
phenomenological discovery of power laws in complex systems is not unusual
and may not be evidence of any SF properties. Scale-free is an abused
term, and I wish the controversy about it were explained a bit more. Also, from a modelling point of view, I wish Doyle and Carlson's work on HOT systems were discussed in more depth.

But these are minor points, relatively speaking. This is a gem of a book:
erudite, humane, funny, accessible and thoroughly fascinating. On every
page, there are delights that lead down new intellectual paths.

Csermely did a great service to pedagogy and to this budding science with
this magisterial survey. Outstanding in its ease of access for intelligent
undergraduates and commendable for intellectual honesty - I wish more
books (textbooks and otherwise) were written this way.
Weak Links Stabilize Complex Systems  May 13, 2006
It is an intriguing concept.

Weak links, invisible in many networks, are critical to its stability. In this book, Peter Csermely shows that all networks, from the universe to molecules are governed by the same principles. Regardless of the system -- atoms, cells, companies, web pages or countries -- surprisingly, the weak links stabilize each.

Csermely, a professor at Semmelweis University in Budapest, a former Fogarty Fellow at Harvard University, is a molecular chaperones specialist. In 2003, he became fascinated by the concept of affinity -- a network's stabilizing components of must have weak links to the other components. These weak links act as hubs. Attack the hubs; disrupt the network.

Csermely demonstrates the concept hold true in field after field. The professor begins his study with a discussion of the Granovetter study of a job search and then proceeds to describe network dynamics. By chapter four, the reader is ready to be introduced to the concept of weak links as universal stabilizers. Then, the professor conducts a network tour ranging from macromolecules to the planet earth. Finally he ends with a discussion of weak links, stability landscapes and game theory.

Surprisingly, his book is understandable, even to non-academics. It is loaded with gems that can be applied to the reader's networks and relationships.

This is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own. Thankfully, Professor Csermely sent me an advanced copy. It is a unique book that takes a thorough look at an intriguing concept.

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