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The Collapse of Chaos

The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World (1994) is a book about complexity theory and the nature of scientific explanation written by biologist Jack Cohen and mathematician Ian Stewart.

The Collapse of Chaos
The Collapse of Chaos - book cover.png
Softcover edition
Author Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject scientific explanation, complexity theory
Publisher Penguin Books
Publication date
Pages 495
ISBN 978-0-670-84983-3
OCLC 247326335

In this book Cohen and Stewart give their ideas on chaos theory, particularly on how the simple leads to the complex, and conversely, how the complex leads to the simple, and argue for a need for contextual explanation in science as a complement to reduction. This book dovetails with other books written by the Cohen-Stewart team, particularly Figments of Reality.

As with other Cohen-Stewart books, topics are illustrated with humorous science fiction snippets dealing with a fictional alien intelligence, the Zarathustrians, whom Cohen and Stewart use as metaphors of the human mind itself.


Next Generation commented, "Although the book assumes you have zero knowledge of science (and thus is a little patronizing in the early chapters), it presents the concepts of Complexity Theory as well as anything we've seen."[1]


  1. ^ "Essential Reading". Next Generation. No. 23. Imagine Media. November 1996. p. 59.
  • Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart: The Collapse of Chaos: discovering simplicity in a complex world, Penguin Books, 1994, ISBN 978-0-14-029125-4