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Description - Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams by Mitchel Resnick

Does every group have a leader? Does every pattern have a central cause? Most people tend to think so. Increasingly, decentralized models are being chosen for the organizations and technologies they construct in the world, and for the theories they construct about the world. But even as ideas about decentralization spread throughout the culture, there is a deep-seated resistance to them. This text examines how and why this is so and describes innovative computational tools and activities that can help people (even young children) develop new ways of thinking about decentralization, with examples in many different domains. This wide-ranging exploration into the non-intuitive world of decentralized systems and self-organizing phenomena brings together ideas from computer science, education, systems theory, and artificial life, with the aim of making the notion of self-organization more accessible. Using a new massively parallel programming language called StarLogo, Mitchel Resnick shows how the actions and interactions of thousands of artificial "creatures" can be controlled on the computer screen. For example, a user might write simple programs to describe the actions of thousands of artificial ants, then observe the complex patterns in the ant colony that arise from all of the interactions. Resnick describes how high school students have used StarLogo to create new types of computer simulations, examines how their thinking changed in the process, and concludes by proposing heuristics for thinking about decentralized systems.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780262680936
ISBN-10: 0262680939
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 10mm)
Pages: 184
Imprint: Bradford Books
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Publish Date: 22-Jan-1997
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Mitchel Resnick

Mitchel Resnick, an expert in educational technologies, is Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab. He has worked closely with the LEGO toy company for thirty years, collaborating with them on such innovative projects as the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kits, and he holds the LEGO endowed chair at MIT. He leads the team developing the Scratch programming software and online community, and he is cofounder of the Computer Clubhouse project, a network of after-school learning centers for youth from low-income communities.

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