Summary of A Crude Look at the Whole

The Science of Complex Systems in Business, Life, and Society

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A Crude Look at the Whole book summary
You are part of – and interact with – many complex systems. Here’s how they work.


7 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


As you might expect from a book on complex systems, John H. Miller’s explanations can often be complicated. Yet, he is also lucid, instructive and entertaining. Complex systems surround you. You take part in them all the time. In his examples of such systems, Miller moves smoothly from honeybees to financial crashes, and from cellular automata to game theory. This is an approachable introduction to complexity, with useful examples, drawings, metaphors and humor. getAbstract recommends this examination of the bigger picture to anyone interested in a better of understanding complex systems and how the world works.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How complex systems function,
  • What principles govern complex systems and
  • How complexity affects specific systems and you.


“Complex Systems”
The study of complex systems dates back to Adam Smith’s 1776 treatise The Wealth of Nations. Modern thinkers like John von Neumann and Stanislaw Ulam used early computers to explore ideas that crossed academic disciplines, like whether machines ...
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About the Author

John H. Miller, professor of economics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University, has written numerous works on complexity and complex systems.

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