Facets of Systems Science

September 17th, 2012

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If you liked An Introduction to General Systems Thinking book then you really need this comprehensive introduction which is more formal. Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of pages, you only need to read part 1, the first 218 pages as the rest is a collection of articles you can read selectively later on. For me one of the great features was the coverage of systems literature including some mathematical treatment books (including category theory in addition to famous Rosen’s books such as Anticipatory Systems). I also liked the discussion of critics of general systems theory that points to the fact that it should be called general systems-theory not general-systems theory. Highly recommended.

Facets of Systems Science (IFSR International Series on Systems Science and Engineering)

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Insane Amazon Review System

September 14th, 2012

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We tried to post this positive review on Amazon 3 times and each time it was rejected despite being an Amazon verified purchase:

Mathematical Physics

We decided that we never post a review on Amazon again due to such censoring of an opinion about mathematical physics and category theory textbook.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Mathematical Physics

September 14th, 2012

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This book came to my attention because it starts with category theory in the first chapters and then moves to traditional contemporary mathematical physics topics such as topology and operators. It also covers groups, vector spaces, their duals, tensors, associative and Lie algebras, representation theory, spectral theorem, distributions, homotopy and homology. The author also provides physical examples along the way such as Fock vector spaces, dynamical systems, Minkowski space and algebra of observables. The flow of this mathematical text is very smooth (proofs can be omitted from reading) and explanations are very intuitive. The latter seems to be the main goal of this text. It is also structured into 56 chapters so it can be possible to casually read this book in 2 months during commuting like I did. One strange thing I noticed though is the avoidance of the manifold terminology: the author only uses the word “manifold” only once and without an explanation what it is about so you may even not notice that.

Mathematical Physics (Chicago Lectures in Physics)

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

An Introduction to General Systems Thinking

August 28th, 2012

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This book I bought more than 5 years ago after I recognized that systems approach was needed for memory dump analysis. However, I read it only recently while preparing to talk on systemic software diagnostics. While reading I realized that I already applied some systems theory ideas, for example, about isomorphism of disciplines as systems (which I named as metaphorical bijection): from literary narratology to software narratology and from that to network trace analysis. So if you are interested in systems either computer software ones or human organizational then I would greatly recommend this book as an introduction. The recommended literature in exercises is also useful.

An Introduction to General Systems Thinking (Silver Anniversary Edition)

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Max Mode D’Emploi

August 24th, 2012

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Bought this book in Russian translation and quickly read from cover to cover. Very lively introduction without any utopian suggestions to change the world like in another introduction I read previously: Marx and the Alternative to Capitalism. A few funny cartoons like an employee who fires himself to save his company. Recommended to read before more cryptic The Philosophy of Marx by Étienne Balibar.

Marx (mode d’emploi)

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Killing Time

August 23rd, 2012

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A lively autobiography of Paul Feyerabend that shows human side on every page and prompts a reader to think about life and love after turning the last page in contrast to much more formal autobiography of Saunders Mac Lane I read previously.

Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

A History of Christianity

April 30th, 2012

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It is hard to write a review of this book because I have been reading it sporadically for more than 2 years and just finished today. When I bought it I didn’t know much about Christianity and it various branches (as being educated in secular Soviet Union) so it was difficult reading due to many historical and theological facts. Now I plan to watch DVD series from the same author and already started reading multi-volume sets such as History of the Christian Church (Schaff, Protestant perspective), Studies in Church History (Parsons, Catholic perspective) and waiting for arrival of 9 volumes of Cambridge History of Christianity bought with a great discount from Folio Society.

Just a small note that the last chapters were brief but very enlightening, for example, last pages about the disappearing of Hell and the appearing of burning (cremation).

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

PS. Actually learning about Christian faith helped me to deeply understand my own Memory Religion (Memorianity) with its conception of original memory defect: Memory Religion: A Core Testament of Memorianity (with an old original cover below)

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Semiotics: The Basics

March 29th, 2012

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In 2008 when writing the first version of this review I admitted that Semiotics was a big gap in my education which mostly lied in natural and computer sciences. I knew less about social sciences and tried to fill various gaps. The reason why I came upon this discipline is that I’m interested in signs and their interpretations, especially their relation to various structures. I started reading this book in September, 2008.

Semiotics: The Basics

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As a by-product of reading I was able to provide the kind of a theoretical explanation for the phenomenon of bugtations:

Bugtations: a semiotic approach

Now after more than 3 years of intermittent reading I finally finished this book. In the mean time I was able to apply Semiotics to memory dump and software trace analysis (Memiotics) and now I also use it in connection with Software Narratology (an application of literary narratology to software narratives such as traces and event logs). What is also good about this book in addition to clearly explained concepts is a very good closing chapter summarising the whole book and the field, extensive reading guide, summary of leading schools, and a very good glossary. There is also an online book with extra materials:

http://users.aber.ac.uk/dgc/Documents/S4B/

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Marx and the Alternative to Capitalism

January 19th, 2012

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This book I bought in a local Costa bookshop and found it was written by an Irish sociologist Kieran Allen. Shortly before my interest in Marxism was inspired by seeing a link to Irish communist party website and socialist bookshop in a booklet for Dublin Culture nights festival. It was a bit funny to see communists as part of Irish culture festival especially for me from former Soviet Union. Anyway, later I saw on streets that Marxist festivals are popular in Ireland nowadays. So let’s go back to the book. I found it very good and even lucid in explaining various Marxist ideas and vocabulary. A good start for more advance reading such as “Capital” (I have all 3 hardcover volumes from an Indian publisher and plan to have leather bound edition from Russia if I have enough surplus and MEW German edition) or specialized books such as “A Dictionary of Marxist Thought”. What I also tend to agree with the author is that Stalinism is a mirror of Capitalism (there is also a book “Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization” that I’m reading). I leave an application of a dialectical method of double negation to a reader here. Now the weak points of the book: 1) it doesn’t cover post-Stalinist era; 2) subsequent analysis of alternatives sounds a bit naive for me who really lived in socialism and can compare it to capitalism both in post-socialist country and now living in real capitalist country. The book also has a good reading suggestion list and I even thinking now on reading Voloshinov book “Marxism and the Philosophy of Language” (in Russian, although there is an English edition). Anyway, I would recommend Kieran’s book with reservations (about alternatives) as a first introduction to Marxist thought.

Marx and the Alternative to Capitalism

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

America, Empire of Liberty

December 23rd, 2011

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Before I finished book I knew very little about USA history limited by my school education in former Soviet Union times. Now I feel more confident and plan to read 4 volumes of Oxford History of the United States and 16 volumes of History of America and not being overwhelmed by details. I’m also reading 3 volumes of The Cambridge History of the Cold War and the book provided missing context for the first volume. As a researcher of a history of Russian revolutions (a book is scheduled by OpenTask publisher for the centennial in 2017) I firmly believe that in order to understand a history of your own country it is beneficial to read about other countries. Then discerned historical patterns and insights can be applied to a different narrative.

America, Empire of Liberty: A New History of the United States

The book also has an overview of historical literature at the back which might be useful if you are interested in further pursuing special topics. Additionally the book provides the great overview of background historical material needed to understand modern cyber conflicts.

In conclusion, I must say I’d never thought before that US history was so interesting and I now feel great sympathy for this country.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -