Sync: Book Review by Steven Strogatz: Book Review

Watch Professor Strogatz discuss the concept of sync in this brilliant TED talk. View his site

The first book I read of Strogatz's was The Joy of X. This book enkindled my love of reading books on mathematics and computer science. After having read it, I longed to read more of Strogatz's books, but my library didn't carry Sync. As I exhausted my library's non-textbook math and computer science books, it became apparent I would need to reach out and purchase some of my own mathematical literature. As the second book in my collection (I actually purchased The Joy of X because I enjoyed it so thoroughly) I decided to purchase Sync: How Order Emerges From Chaos In The Universe, Nature, and Daily Life. 

Sync attempts to explain just that – order emerging in our universe, throughout the animate and the inanimate  – through the use of mathematics, all while explaining the history of the new field of synchronisation.  

The first section, "Living Sync", takes us on a tour of the phenomenon in the living world, beginning with a natural spectacle many of us never see: fireflies flashing in sync.

 This same sync occurs in birds while flying, fish while darting to avoid prey (as seen in the video). 

 Strogatz explains the math that govern these behaviors (linear and nonlinear dynamics and differential equations play a large part). The beauty of Strogatz's writing, is that the math is always presented in as non-imposing format without the oversimplification of the material. 

Discovering Sync, (the second section) begins the discussion of Sync in the inanimate, (the Millenium bridge being my favorite example). Strogatz details his own experience in Sync, as well as the journey of other mathematicians and scientists in the field. 

In the final section, Exploring Sync,  Strogatz leads the reader to the beginning of his career, explaining his journey as a mathematician, into biology as a mathematician. He narrates the beginnings of his research compellingly. he shows the implications of Sync in cognitive functions and social behavior: mobs and fads.

Certainly one of the greatest books I have read. I look forward to reading Strogatz's latest book:  Infinite Powers!

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